A 70-year-old Wikipedian (2) Knowing the Collective Knowledge

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This is an English translation of my book entitled “A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries.Chapter 1, The Road to Wikipedia. Previously, click here.

Knowing the Collective Knowledge (Chapter 1-2)

(No dice, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I first became aware of the concept of “collective knowledge” at the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, where I started working in 2005. It was around 2006 when a study session was held on the topic of research related to Keizo Shibusawa.

Keizo Shibusawa, grandson of Eiichi Shibusawa, succeeded his grandfather at the First National Bank of Japan, but he was also known for his academic background and his interests were wide and varied. An American researcher who had studied Keizo’s diverse footprints spoke at the study session about his research methods. One of these methods was ‘collective knowledge‘.

The impression I got from the talk was that it was a story of many researchers gradually bringing together what they each knew about a single research subject, and what was initially incomplete gradually became better and better. I remember feeling a fresh sense of the attitude of not aiming for perfection from the start.

The mission of the Resource Center for the History of Entrepreneurship (now the Information Resource Center), of which I was a member, was to disseminate information about Eiichi Shibusawa and business history, mainly through its website. It was a challenge to do something that no one had done before, and every day was a series of explorations. In 2007, Ikki Ōmukai‘s book “ウェブがわかる本” (Understanding the Web) was published, and I read it with a desire to grasp at straws. It was a time when the Internet was just beginning to spread, and the content of the book, written for young people, went straight to my already hardened head.

Chapter 3, “The Mechanisms that Shape the Web”, discussed “collective knowledge” after “blogs” and “SNS”. The author said that collective knowledge is “the collection of everyone’s knowledge and wisdom, and the mass of knowledge collected in this way”. He then gave as an example, “Wikipedia“.

At that time I had seen Wikipedia on the Internet, but I did not know who was doing it, and I looked at it with a skeptical eye. However, after reading this book, I strongly felt that one day I would like to join Wikipedia and write articles.

After finishing the book, I started writing “blog” at work that year, and in my personal life, I started “blog” and “SNS” (first Twitter, then Facebook, and then Instagram and a little bit of LINE) sequentially in 2010, but I had not started “collective knowledge” or “Wikipedia” yet.

Original Book

門倉百合子『70歳のウィキペディアン:図書館の魅力を語る』東京:郵研社、2023年 (A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries / by Yuriko Kadokura. Tokyo: Yukensha, 2023)

About this book

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