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Submissions/How Rules and Resources Constrain Social Memory on Wikipedia: the case of 2011 Japan earthquake

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

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Title of the submission

How Rules and Resources Constrain Social Memory on Wikipedia: the case of 2011 Japan earthquake

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

Emmanuel Wathelet (PhD Student) François Lambotte (PhD, project supervisor)

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Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

FUCaM (Facultés universitaires catholiques de Mons)

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

On Friday, March 14, 2011 at 2:46 p.m., an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck the coast of Japan. A Wikipedia article is built a few minutes later starting a social memory process.

Before becoming a cultural memory, social memory is short-term, disorganized and unstable. The process leading to a distanced, fixed, objectified and specialized memory is unclear. Considered as a global memory place, Wikipedia provides access to this process. On Wikipedia, the memory is collectively negotiated and centralization of discussions on a single platform allows analysis. Informal exchanges on talk pages lead to formal articles of the encyclopedia.

The negotiation of memory on Wikipedia is made possible through a series of explicit and implicit rules and resources – policies and guidelines.

We apply our analysis to the article about the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami. We will: 1) identify the rules and resources involved in drafting the article; 2) conduct a narratological reconstruction of decisions taken following the confrontation with the rules; 3) outline the specifics of an online social memory facilitated and constrained by rules and resources.

Prospectively, we will try to sketch answers to these questions: • To what extent is Wikipedia institutionalized? • Does memory belongs to contributors able to master the rules?

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

People and Community

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  1. Lior gimel 11:46, 30 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  2. MADe 17:54, 4 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Tkoch 10:51, 9 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Mzk1 21:04, 31 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Tomo suzuki 17:50, 4 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]