Tuesday, September 22, 2009

post-modernism and what is real!

Hi Everyone (Britta here),
I just had another thought that I wanted to share. The other evening on the call, Laura asked about or made reference to post-modernism. I loved Ju-Pong's response that it is something that is very difficult to grasp and understand and cannot be easily summarized. Yes.

Then, I think it was also Laura who made note of O'Donnell's use of Wikipedia as a reference. If my memory serves me, Laura, I think you were not impressed by this and made a comment to indicate that. Correct me if I have it wrong, please...

But, this is what I was thinking. And, I wanted to say a small bit about post-modernism in this regard. From what I understand (and remember, because I haven't read about it for about 10 years now...) but, from what I understand, post-modernism is the big way of describing what has happened to the world since (about) 1968 or so. Things became faster, more random, less linear, more democratic (with a small 'd'), more relativistic, people began to embrace irony and the idea that the world is "socially constructed," secularism became a more widely practiced belief system. People didn't like or trust old structures of authority.

So, to make this brief, I think Wikipedia is a very post-modern form of knowledge. And, to embrace it, as a legitimate reference source is also very pomo. If one believes that the world is "socially constructed" then Wikipedia is a perfect place to tap into that construction of the world.

Just a note about my own beliefs, as I tend to be a bit agnostic on the whole matter. I can see that post-modernism is, in fact, here. out my window and in my head. But I am not sure if I like it. On the other hand, I don't know if I really liked what happened before or what might happen next.

all the best to all of you!


  1. "I think Wikipedia is a very post-modern form of knowledge" Britta

    Britta, I could not agree with you more. The WIKIPEDIA defies what we know about "knowledge" in a very post-modern way. Wikipedia makes "knowledge" a variable and an organic structure thus it is very uncomfortable for many people to accept as a "valid source". Since I teach a Research and Technology Class for all the art/s majors at Kean University I klnow all about the debates re the question: "Is the Wikipedia actually reliable enough to cite in a research paper? Most professors say "NO!" For me the jury is out.

    I love the Wikipedia myself. But I found I despise it too when my community work began with the Democracy Wall and we uncovered more than one "changing" Wikipedia entry! One was the architect we were criticizing. He evidently had a crew of PR people chnaging his entry back to "an award winning architect" after others would call him a "controversial" or "having many violations" (!) SO it would depend on what time of day your read the Wikipedia what kind of opinion you might get about this prominent, Brooklyn architect and his work. In fact the local Councilman got involved with the "wiki war"

    See: "Strange Scarano $ DeBlasio Wikipedia War Continues" at:


    I think since then the Wikipedia has changed and you can not edit all the time like you could when this was happening (2007). But it was an eye opener to me about "knowledge" and of course, so many academics having been saying that for years about all the "standard textbooks" we require our children to read in order to "get an education". Who's version of history do we ask them to "know"? I often ask myself.

    On the other hand, I myself tried to get our CORD group a Wikipedia entry and could not do so back in 2007. It is my mission to get us up there however as I want our work citable and documentable, for other community activists to have as a resource. So I must ry again, and I will let this group know when I get that up there! triada

  2. IN Nicholas Bourriaud's new book, The Radicant, he discusses the inadequacies of postmodernism, seems to declare it pretty much dead and, like he does in Relational Aesthetics, calls for a different way of looking at modernism, which he calls altermodernity.

    Terry Eagleton's After Theory is also a very clear and very decisive dismissal of pomo.

    long live wikipedia!

  3. a friend, Joanne Hui, up at Concordia in Montreal has offered her notes on The Radicant. I've put a pdf on my site. should download immediately.


  4. what i mean is that IT should download immediately when you go to that url, not that you should download it immediately. Download it whenever. Or never.

  5. and had posted this in the wrong place, just jumping in to the wiki debate:

    Hi, just to jump in and make a comment about my use of wikipedia, since it came up. I often use the phraes "wikipedia tells us," something I started before it was used as commonly as it is today to sort of reference a sort of information commons, a jointly-held repository of ideas. And, in fact, it's about as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, which may not be such a great thing. But in any case, I usually use it for broad definitions and not anything that needs more specific citations. in this case, it was for a definition of civil society. i could just as easily have referenced the oxford dictionary or whatever. but i like the held-in-common nature of wikipedia. though, to what extent that's entirely true, i don't know.