A History Of The Iraq War, Through Wikipedia Edits

4963527724_185a17ef00_oHere’s how you write history in the contentious twenty-first century. Every edit made to the Wikipedia page The Iraq War, published as a bound, multi-volume set. Via booktwo:

This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.

It amounts to twelve volumes: the size of a single old-style encyclopaedia. It contains arguments over numbers, differences of opinion on relevance and political standpoints, and frequent moments when someone erases the whole thing and just writes “Saddam Hussein was a dickhead”.

This is historiography. This is what culture actually looks like: a process of argument, of dissenting and accreting opinion, of gradual and not always correct codification.

And for the first time in history, we’re building a system that, perhaps only for a brief time but certainly for the moment, is capable of recording every single one of those infinitely valuable pieces of information. Everything should have a history button. We need to talk about historiography, to surface this process, to challenge absolutist narratives of the past, and thus, those of the present and our future.

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  • Vox Penii

    This is not going to help the publishing industry remain relevant.

    In my estimation, this is a conceptual art piece — and a lame conceptual art piece, to risk redundancy. This is a snooty object d’art created by a clever-clever mind that wants to impress other clever-clever minds.

    “Ooh, isn’t that _clever_!” And the book set will sit on a shelf, neglected, until one desires to impress new clever minds…

  • Andrew

    “If a child wants to get good grades in school, but is unable or unwilling to achieve them and begins to hate the children who do, that is hatred of the good. If a man regards intelligence as a value, but is troubled by self-doubt and begins to hate the men he judges to be intelligent, that is hatred of the good.

    “The nature of the particular values a man chooses to hold is not the primary factor in this issue (although irrational values may contribute a great deal to the formation of that emotion). The primary factor and distinguishing characteristic is an emotional mechanism set in reverse: a response of hatred, not toward human vices, but toward human virtues.

    “To be exact, the emotional mechanism is not set in reverse, but is set one way: its exponents do not experience love for evil men; their emotional range is limited to hatred or indifference. It is impossible to experience love, which is a response to values, when one’s automatized response to values is hatred.”

    – Any Rand, “The Age of Envy”

  • A Bad Joke

    Too bad. I got banned from wikipedia for editing Paris Hiltons page to say she was a fervent Neo-Nazi.

    Having actually served in the war, maybe I could bring a fresh perspective? Probably not, this is the internet after all.

  • A Bad Joke

    Too bad. I got banned from wikipedia for editing Paris Hiltons page to say she was a fervent Neo-Nazi.

    Having actually served in the war, maybe I could bring a fresh perspective? Probably not, this is the internet after all.

  • Andrew

    “If a child wants to get good grades in school, but is unable or unwilling to achieve them and begins to hate the children who do, that is hatred of the good. If a man regards intelligence as a value, but is troubled by self-doubt and begins to hate the men he judges to be intelligent, that is hatred of the good.

    “The nature of the particular values a man chooses to hold is not the primary factor in this issue (although irrational values may contribute a great deal to the formation of that emotion). The primary factor and distinguishing characteristic is an emotional mechanism set in reverse: a response of hatred, not toward human vices, but toward human virtues.

    “To be exact, the emotional mechanism is not set in reverse, but is set one way: its exponents do not experience love for evil men; their emotional range is limited to hatred or indifference. It is impossible to experience love, which is a response to values, when one’s automatized response to values is hatred.”

    – Any Rand, “The Age of Envy”

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