Reenactment and Wikipedia

When an individual commits an act, good or bad, others ask why. Nick Kowalczyk asks this question with the reenactors of the French and Indian War in mind with his “Embedded with the reenactors” article. His article shows both portions of the good and the bad that exist within the reenactment world. He is not afraid to make fun of it either. He writes, “Like drag shows, re-enactments hinge on sartorial panache. If a man’s otherwise period-correct outfit includes modern-day buttons or eyeglasses, it might as well have come from K-mart.” That quote demonstrates how strange the world of reenactment can seem to Kowalczyk at times, but it also comes to demonstrate an answer to his why question. Why do these individuals, mainly white, middle-aged men, want to reenact the French and Indian War? For individuals such as Old Hickory, a man who introduced Kowalczyk to reenactment, the answer comes from both his love to reliving the past and feeling as though he is out of place in the present. “’In real life I’m just a wallflower,’ Old Hickory confessed to me, before adding, on a brighter note, “but when I found reenacting everything changed.’” As Kowalczyk finds one answer on the reenactment battlefield, he uncovers other issues seen in on-line encyclopedia contributors and science programs; a dominating gender exists in reenactments.

In “Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List”, Noam Cohen summed up the basic structural foundation of Wikipedia when she said, “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.” That those who edit and monitor Wikipedia are most likely not professionals can create a feeling of hostility seen in Timothy Messer-Kruse’s article. As Messer-Kruse explains, Wikipedia’s policies are created to be based off of popular consensus. This stems off of the belief that popular consensus is most likely based of reliable written sources, but that is not to say that less-popular views are ignored either. As discussed in “Weighing Consensus”, the issue that arises between Messer-Kruse and the Wikipedian editor is based on consensus. Seeing as the basic structure of Wikipedia is built on the belief that all individuals, professional or not, function within a continually evolving consensus of evidence. The consensus generated within Wikipedia has come from the natural growth of the website and it obviously has its inherent flaws within it.

Cohen does not only bring up a basic structural foundation for Wikipedia, but a larger issue of gender inequality witnessed in the online encyclopedia. Gender inequality present in Wikipedia may very well show the issues present in the United States. Catherine Orenstein was quoted as saying, “When you are a minority voice, you begin to doubt your own competencies.” The site may not be a direct battleground for gender equality or other issues, but it is a tool created for all to use, a tool that can help individuals or groups share their knowledge with others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *