Digital Culture

Wikipedia vs Jessamyn

I had no idea until I saw it on Information Wants to Be Free that there was a discussion going on regarding whether or not our very own Jessamyn Charity West was “important” enough to have her own Wikipedia page.

Laying aside the fact that I think the answer is obvious (damn straight she is!) there is a degree to which the question is an interesting one. Meredith says:

Significant to whom? How is that even a valid question? Imposing this sort of authority on the wikipedia seems rather arbitrary to me and goes against what a wiki should be. But I digress…

Well…the Wikipedia has a set of standards that they use to judge inclusion of biographies. This is probably not a terrible thing. For one it keeps people from putting up derogatory biographies about other people they know. I am all for wikis being whatever they want to be…open or closed. Wikipedia made that choice, and have stated standards for inclusion. Works for me, as long as the reasons are public.

Would I prefer it to be more open? Of course. I’d love to be able to enter biographies of “non-important” people. The possibility of using Wikipedia as a form of personal biography is a really interesting one, and I think one could make a solid argument for allowing it.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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