In Favor Of Dissertation

From WikiHistory:

I occasionally suggest how this site should be used. My GoodStyle suggestions have been here since the beginning and are linked from the edit page should anyone forget. I have done my best to discourage dialog InFavorOfDissertation which offers a better fit to this medium. I've been overruled. I will continue to make small edits to pages for the sake of brevity. -- WardCunningham.

What is dissertation?

dissertation (d�s�er-t�shen) noun Abbr. diss.

A lengthy, formal treatise, especially one written by a candidate for the doctoral degree at a university; a thesis.

The American Heritage� Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright � 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation. All rights reserved.

Dictionary definitions should always be critically received. They are themselves the attempt to register a general or normative sentiment but definitions are linguistically untenable. Dissertations are received to be completed and published artifacts. Wikis are always under construction.

I agree that Wikis should aim to provide a unified presentation of an issue but I don't see this as comparable to a dissertation. Wikis are far more collaborative and iterative than classical forms of publishing. Discussion and threads are necessary parts of the process. When all arguments have been settled and all questions have been answered a unified and coherent or at least an acceptable to all presentation can be made. The result might even be classified as a discourse as discourses, at least in cultural criticism, are concerned with organising meaning beyond the grammatical level, ie. how sentences work together. But the use of Wikis is more important than the associated terminology.

See DissertationOverDiscourse

''Ward, I'm not sure what you mean by this. I think of dissertation as referring to a fairly narrow type of academic presentation: based on review of others' research, or on one's original research, one advances a proposition which one endeavors to show is reasonably justified by repeatable evidence gathered through unbiased experimentation. The presentation is reviewed by experts in the field who attempt to validate the quality of the evidence and the reasoning, if the argument passes this validation process then the presenter is welcomed into the circle of academics, their work is considered to advance the field and they are authorized to teach and critique in the field.

How does this compare to what you wanted for Wiki?

Did you mean that you hoped more pages would start with a strongly stated brief essay advocating a point of view, accumulate discussion threads, gradually be refactored into major areas of agreement and disagreement, have the disagreement moved to another page starting with a strong essay, and eventually become part of the accumulated wisdom of the PortlandPatternRepository? Or did you mean something else?

Thanks again for making the forum available. I'd like to learn more about your vision for what it could become.''

Perhaps a distinction is that in a typical academic discourse, the audience is much more passive. There's a balance: Put too little thought in your initial post and people will ignore it as lightweight. But if you put too many heavy concepts in the initial post, you leave less space for others to come in and feel that they can contribute. There's something to be said for participation, synthesis, and discovery through refactoring -- all that fun stuff that makes Wiki distinct.

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