Since I had to take Lucas to school anyway this morning, I decided to stop by the office for some focused time, pneumonia be damned. Unfortunately, 90 minutes into my productive e-mail session, Fang texted to warn me about the newly falling snow and to suggest I get on the roads sooner rather than later.
Every once in a while, I feel really bad for dragging Fang to Boise. To be honest, this was not one of those moments.
The result was another day on the couch with the laptop, TV playing in the background. Despite the distracted recuperation, I made some progress on a piece I promised to write. It’s another reflection on how the public does history, in line with the chapter I wrote last year, only this time I’m looking at how the historical sausage gets made at Wikipedia and Ancestry.com. As you might imagine, I’m observing that each site’s process and product is inflected by gender. My research into women’s contributions to Wikipedia has uncovered a trove of misogynistic comments about how more extensive participation by women would ruin Wikipedia. As much as they unsettle me, such sources also warm the cockles of my dark academic heart.
Mostly, I’m interested in how Wikipedians and Ancestry users (Ancestryans?) collaborate or come to consensus, how they perceive and use primary and secondary sources, and how they view and establish expertise within their respective digital communities.
Have you ever contributed to Wikipedia or Ancestry? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your experience. If not, I’m curious as to why you haven’t participated on these sites, as they are incredibly popular in the U.S. (Businessweek reports that “genealogy ranks second only to porn as the most searched topic online.”)