Wikipedia’s sprawling and impressive coverage of the pandemic
He added a “Covid-19 in popular culture” section at the end of the article, which was left largely blank except for a few lines on the certainty of impending artwork that would do reference to the pandemic. Fellow editors immediately challenged the section, citing a lack of substance. “I said, ‘Wait, this will complete,’ ‘Wyatt said. “If you think about the plague of the Middle Ages and how much literature and culture refers to the plague again now, this is a category we can create ahead of time because we know it’s going to fill up. And that’s what happened. Indeed, he has become so big that he has become his own article.
In his essay on Wikipedia’s relationship to breaking news, Brian Keegan notes the stupendous detail of the Terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 article in the months following the event. There was even a list of nearly 3,000 victims by name, location and civil status. Editors began to assert that thoroughness was “unworthy of the traditional encyclopedia Wikipedia was trying to stylistically imitate,” and eventually parts of the entry disappeared.
The fact that Wikipedia articles can spring up overnight, grow, and then contract again reflects the peculiar vicissitudes of record keeping in the digital age. Because the online encyclopedia is alive and breathing, it is linked to the present. “Little by little, as the community understands [the pandemic] with a macro perspective, two, three, five, 10 years, some of those subpages will be removed, or they will be merged, ”Stinson said. the Tourism in Zanzibar page, for example, may one day drop its Covid-19 reference, especially if there is a comprehensive, surviving article on the effects of the pandemic on global tourism.
Wikimedia archives all deleted pages, of course, which is why Stephen Harrison, writing in Slate, cleverly observed that “current revisions of Wikipedia [will] become a historical artefact ”for future researchers studying this period.