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An odd thing about Larry Sanger in this regard is that he is actually a pretty good positive (in some ways) example of what he claims to decry! Here is what his bio on that page says:

I call myself an "Internet Knowledge Organizer." I started Wikipedia.org, Citizendium.org, and WatchKnow.org, among others. Now I am lucky enough to be able to work full-time on creating free materials for early education, which I am using with my two little boys and sharing with you.

Now, that all sounds pretty interesting. But does it sound like traditional academia? What are his formal credentials in Internet Knowledge Organization? What are his formal credentials in early childhood education? What does he publish in peer-reviewed journals in those areas? It sounds almost as if, despite no formal training in sociology, new media, online communities, pedagogy, etc. (all of which do have established academic fields, which he could've studied if he wished), he just brazenly went out there and started some projects. As far as I can tell, he didn't even read what had been written about those areas. That's cool, but why is he then all negative on the idea in general? If we wanted to apply some strict standard of expertise, Larry Sanger should be publishing in philosophy journals (an area he has formal training in), and staying out of online communities, education, and other areas in which he lacks academic expertise.

In any case, I'm a computer science academic, and in our field I don't see it as a new sentiment: the idea that you can be a brilliant garage hacker with no degree is decades old. I don't think it's overall that negative a relationship, either. It's not necessarily idyllic, but plenty of non-academics are interested in the work of academic research (algorithms, PLs, operating systems, AI). Even in industry, researchy stuff, like what comes out of Google Research and MSR, gets a lot of interest. It might help that some respect is given in the opposite direction as well-- plenty of academics' heroes include non-degree-holding garage hackers.




"An odd thing about Larry Sanger in this regard is that he is actually a pretty good positive (in some ways) example of what he claims to decry!"

His premise isn't that making knowledge more accessible is bad. It is that the growing attitude that is comprised of (among other things) "If it's on wikipedia, I don't actually need to know it"




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