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How one man started a multi-national trade war in a world reshaped by environmental collapse

24 Oct 2010 in international | questo post è lungo 776 parole

Wikiworld - Paul Di Filippo - English version

Originally published -in english- in Fast Forward 1 (edited by Lou Anders), Wikiworld got many reviews. We selected two of them.__

(You can read the novelette in english, in italian and soon in portuguese)

  1. SFSignal (5 stars)

«Synopsis: The back story of how one man started a multi-national trade war in a world reshaped by environmental collapse.

Review: Extrapolation is most convincing (at least to my short-sighted thinking) when the imagined future is not too far off from what we know today. That's the case here where the collaboration culture of wikis has emerged as the basis for society after the world has been radically altered due to environmental changes. Submerged coastal cities are now the prey of treasure hunters looking to score some currency amidst a society formed of wikis - groups of people wirelessly connected to each other (and the global network) and joined for some common purpose. All the wikis are governed by the UWA and "Wkikiworld" tells how Russ quickly rises to power to seek revenge for an accident involving his carefree (and wiki-less) girlfriend, Cherry. Russ' rise to power, brief though it may be, is egged on by FooDog, experienced hacker who uses his skill to disable "spimed" tech across the globe and put pressure on those nations who might in some way be responsible. De Filippo's cyber-future is wiki culture taken to logical extremes. (Indeed, the reference-laden text screams to be read alongside a computer pointed towards wikipedia.) For example, people use their wiki connections, implemented via subcutaneous RFID devices, to vote on matters both regional and national. Although the extrapolation of current cyberculture reminded me of Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Di Fillipo's near-future setting is brilliantly distinctive; one that is simultaneously grim (Can drowned world scenarios be anything else) but cool. Very well done».

  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica Blog

«Paul di Filippo’s science fiction story, Wikiworld (not to be confused with cartoonist Greg Williams’ WikiWorld), posits a near semi-utopian future in which cooperation among various cybergangs is the norm for everything from running the country to building the main character’s house. Of course, when part of the house collapses a cyberwar commences over responsibility.

Reading the story brought to mind Michael Bernstein’s Great Depression, although about all that I recall after some 20 years is the author’s contention that sense of community has been far more important in the development of the United States than rugged individualism, especially in hard times. Hollywood history might extol the image of Daniel Boone or Jim Bridger as mountain men exploring the wilderness, but in reality the continent was settled by organized groups that banded together to survive the hardships of the journey (over sea and later over land) in order to establish viable communities. In a sense, the wiki movement, and Usenet and other forum groups before it, has sought to harness the internet for the creation of a new worldwide virtual community by building open resources (such as Wikipedia) and public spaces such as MySpace. In particular, when the barriers to entry are low and the exits are easy, such as for most special interest forums, there is a fairly dependable influx of new “experts” who can answer typical “newbie” questions. The hard part comes when the needed information is truly critical and the knowledgebase is small. For example, good general information is available at many health forums, but any reputable site will recommend that you seek professional help.

Of course most utopian communes (exemplified by New Harmony, Indiana) have dissolved in internecine warfare or just evaporated as people felt less personal incentive to sacrifice for the general good—especially as a hierarchal structure develops that reduces individual autonomy. Wikipedia seems to be no exception. People are people after all, and there is an ever growing cadre of dissatisfied people, such as those at Wikitruth, who have sharpened their knives for some amputations—and still others who are out to dismember the good along with the bad.

So is Wikipedia on its way to becoming Isaac Asimov’s Encyclopedia Galactica (or for younger readers, Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) or will it be abandoned as Web 3.0 arrives? (Frankly, a shared conundrum for all general reference works, including Encyclopaedia Britannica, is how to evolve in the coming world of Web 3.0 interactivity.) Maybe reading is obsolete and experts are old-fashioned and elitist. Then again, maybe we haven’t quite reached the world of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. At least that’s what I take from reading Larry Sanger, the ex-cofounder of Wikipedia, who has begun extolling the virtues of expert opinion over popular consensus.»

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