Sunday, June 03, 2007

The grain of sand at the core of the wikipedia pearl

Holy shit, Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder and guru) is an objectivist. That is just weird on multiple levels. For one thing, it's another example of a right-libertarian being in the vanguard of what amounts to a left-libertarian vision. When I was at MIT the objectivists used to quite literally worship the $ sign, now we have one whose slogan is "free knowledge for free minds".

For another, the philosophy of wikipedia seems determinedly anti-objectivist, at least superficially. They disdain expertise and seem to expect that truth will bubble up from a crowd-based distributed process. This egalitarian attitude seems very un-Randian to me, although who knows, maybe it is objectivist on a deeper level.

Given that Wikipedia seems to have become the new default authoritative source of knowledge, it's guiding philosophy and structures of governance become exceedingly interesting and important. The fact that it's run by someone under the influence of a nuttily simplistic ideology is a wee bit disturbing. On the other hand, Wales does not seem to have the virulently rabid form of the objectivist meme, and it certainly hasn't interfered with the success of his efforts.

1 comment:

goatchowder said...

Umm... I think I shared that factoid with you over a year ago, when I went to see a Long Now interview Wales did with Stewart Brand.

Brand specifically asked Waled about Ayn Rand, and pointed out that Wales and Brand are both Randroids. He asked Wales how his Objectivism squares with Wikipedia, and he gave a pretty well-rehearsed answer, thought I don't remember what it was.

I stopped going to Long Now lectures, because the right-wing slant of them started annoying me.