Wikipedia and the Emergence of Dialogic Expertise
Wikipedia's popularity as an online encyclopedia calls attention to fundamental assumptions about the management and dissemination of information. Drawing on a Bakhtinian framework, this article posits a model of dialogic expertise. Specifically, it argues that, by facilitating an ongoing chain of interdependent and multivocal “utterances,” Wikipedia challenges traditional “monologic” expertise. Nonetheless, the site's purportedly democratic defiance of knowledge elites (of encyclopedic publishing, academe, etc.) is compromised by the establishment of a “technocratic” hierarchy. Implications extend to the scholarly debate surrounding dialogue and rhetoric and to understanding of Wikipedia's success in the context of a cultural anxiety—Americans are at once dependent on an extensive system of experts and uneasy about the deferential distribution of power within that system.