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Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians: The Political Economy and Cultural History of Wikipedia
Famiglietti, Andrew A.

2011, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Bowling Green State University, American Culture Studies/Communication.

This dissertation explores the political economy and cultural history of Wikipedia, the
free encyclopedia. It demonstrates how Wikipedia, an influential and popular site of knowledge
production and distribution, was influenced by its heritage from the hacker communities of the
late twentieth century. More specifically, Wikipedia was shaped by an ideal I call, “the cyborg
individual,” which held that the production of knowledge was best entrusted to a widely
distributed network of individual human subjects and individually owned computers. I trace how
this ideal emerged from hacker culture in response to anxieties hackers experienced due to their


intimate relationships with machines. I go on to demonstrate how this ideal influenced how
Wikipedia was understood both those involved in the early history of the site, and those writing
about it. In particular, legal scholar Yochai Benkler seems to base his understanding of
Wikipedia and its strengths on the cyborg individual ideal. Having established this, I then move
on to show how the cyborg individual ideal misunderstands Wikipedia's actual method of
production. Most importantly, it overlooks the importance of how the boundaries drawn around
communities and shared technological resources shape Wikipedia's content. I then proceed to
begin the process of building what I believe is a better way of understanding Wikipedia, by
tracing how communities and shared resources shape the production of recent Wikipedia articles.

Victoria Ekstrand, PhD (Committee Chair)
Nancy Patterson, PhD (Committee Member)
Radhika Gajjala, PhD (Committee Member)
Donald McQuarie, PhD (Committee Member)
David Parry, PhD (Committee Member)

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Famiglietti, A. (2011). Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians: The Political Economy and Cultural History of Wikipedia. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Famiglietti, Andrew. "Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians: The Political Economy and Cultural History of Wikipedia." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Bowling Green State University, 2011. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 22 Sep 2017.

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Famiglietti, Andrew "Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians: The Political Economy and Cultural History of Wikipedia." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Bowling Green State University, 2011. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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