Associate Professor, Managenment Information Systems,
Katz School of Businss, University of Pittsburgh
April 1, 2011
Speakman Hall 200, 1000am – 1130am
Seminar Title : Handling Flammable Materials: Wikipedia Biographies of Living Persons as Contentious Objects
Common ground. Shared interests. Collective goals. Much has been said about the power of technology to bring people together around commonalities to form groups, teams, and communities. Yet, the same technologies can also be used to bring together individuals with fundamentally irreconcilable differences. In these cases, the question is not how to construct systems that build on commonality, but rather how to manage artifacts that by their very nature provide affordances for conflict. In this paper we examine how Biographies of Living Persons (BLP) in Wikipedia exemplify contentious objects, both in terms of their features and their consequences. We draw from discussions of risk management and resilience to outline four approaches that groups can use to manage contentious objects (risk avoidance, risk minimization, threat reduction, and conflict management). Description of the policies, structures, and systems surrounding Biographies of Living Persons in Wikipedia illustrate how application of these approaches enable the creation and existence of large collection of contentions objects, without undermining the viability of the larger socio-technical system.
For a copy of the paper, click here.