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FirstReading as judgment

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."
-- The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, Stanza lxxi, (c.11th century) as adapted by Edward FitzGerald [1] (see also Wiki:MovingFinger)

Text is malleable. It can be changed after it is written. It can be rewritten. It can be recontextualized. (cf. ContentSwizzling, ContextSwizzling, AuthorSwizzling, TransClusion) Digital text is even more malleable than normal text, as it is active, mechanized, in a way that script is not.

Text's property of being changed leads to interesting changes in how it is read. For instance, TheAudience can become authors. They can annotate the text or they can even go directly into the text and change it. Wikis benefit greatly from this. Since text is recorded, it is a time capsule that may be reopened at any time. One may discuss a subject across the LongNow of the WikiNow, even disagreeing with oneself at a later time.

History is only a memory, and memory can only be in one of three places. It can be in our minds, as CommunityLore. It can be in the environment, as IncidentalCollaboration and PathsInHypermedia attest. Or it can be written down as text. Stalin, just as in the novel 1984, went back into the historical archives of his nation and changed recorded history. If you then execute or exile all those who remember, eventually the past is forgotten unless someone can dig it back out of the ground.

This can be done for good too. We try to ForgiveAndForgetInSoftware to aid ForgiveAndForgetInWetware. In theory, we will eventually forget, so we don't want reminders, which may inadvertently PunishReputation. Either way, we also want to FixBrokenWindows and paste over all the bad parts of our history.

There is a tension between today and tomorrow. What future people, even ourselves (AuthorSwizzling), think of what we write here in our LifeInText [sic] is the result of the social negotiation of the text up until the point they read it, when they may further negotiate changes to that text. But this elides much of what came in the past, as there is no past to text; all text is in the WikiNow. What we make of the past is only stored as more text which itself is socially negotiated.

The FirstReading is the BalancingForce against your LifeInText. But today, there is something that is not negotiated, and that is the FirstReading of the text. Once that text enters our minds, we own that private reading of the text in a way that published text can never be owned. It is only manipulatable if we are manipulatable, which is true to an extent, but not completely like a published text is. We can remember if we really want to (cf. CommunityLore).

This has ill effect though in conflicts. As AssumeGoodFaith clearly says, don't test other people's ability to AssumeGoodFaith. People will remember the FirstReading longer than they will remember what the text says, as it will colour everything they read from that point on. First impressions count, after all. Be careful what you write!

Schematically then, there is a tension between the LifeInText (WikiNow, ForgiveAndForgetInSoftware), and what is remembered (CommunityLore, ForgiveAndForget), which is mitigated through the FirstReading (RecentChanges, RandomPage), which itself adds tension as the subsequent readings are forever changed by it. Not mentioned are the social relationships that form the power structure that this tension informs as part of TheCollective's decision-making process when taking action.

On WikiPedia, one complaint about reworking of discussion (as opposed to articles) is that different readers experience a different FirstReading. This was also a complaint on HTwoGTwo, with regards to PostModeration? - sometimes the community was split into those who had read some unpleasantness directly (and thus suffered the FirstReading), and those who had only heard about it indirectly. This works both as a TrollingTactic (say something nasty, act like it was nice), and as a GodKing tactic (moderate something nice, act like it was nasty). OpenProcess is normally to show people the moderated content, but this is problematic for offensive content. --MartinHarper

FirstReading as sight

Illiteracy is a kind of blindness. -- Ruth Rendell

InformationOverload interferes with FirstReading. People with ideas are more likely to PostNow rather than undertake the necessary FirstReading to determine what's already been done, and this is what leads quite often to an IntelligenceFailure. Also, since integrating text with DocumentMode requires time to read the page, or creating a new page within the context of other pages requires time to understand the PageDatabase, people will more likely post floating paragraphs (such as this paragraph was originally written) or opt for EasySubmission or create OrphanedPages that may never be integrated or cleaned up because of various ReworkingProblems. Thus, while we ask people to Wiki:FixYourWiki, in practice we decrease the SignalToNoiseRatio, which leads to further InformationOverload (as it takes increasing time to integrate information) and decreased FirstReading. Huge efforts like Wiki:WikiSpringCleaning are occasionally undertaken, but it's good to get into the practice of Wiki:RefactorAsYouGo.

For example, the creation of the page QuestionsAndAnswers from the FrontPage MeatballWiki, even though there was already the page MeatballWikiFaq? already on the FrontPage! The reason was likely the overwhelming number of links on the page already.



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