James Bridle created a fascinating object this month. It's a book with "every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War," over a period of five years from December 2004 to November 2009.
Beyond the book itself, Bridle's blog post introducing it is a beautiful meditation on what Wikipedia means to historiography. Highly recommended reading.
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.
Read the full story at BookTwo.
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