It’s done. Forget about it

DRAFT a later version will be contributed to Wikipedia

Zeigarnik effect, ink on paper

A waiter can serve on a large table remembering each and every dish ordered, starters, main, drinks, everything Try asking them about the order details a moment after it was served and they completely forgot it.

This phenomenon encouraged Soviet Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik to research into it and find that what you don’t finish sticks longer and deeper in your memory. This revelation was very profound for cognitive studies and is extremely relevant for advertising, entertainment, communication and education.

It is very relevant to Wikipedia too, and it is something that illustration can provide. An image is never finite, its reading is unstable, uncontrolled. Yet this exact ambiguity can be the source of better learning, deeper understanding and further engagement. It is not unlike what Open Source hackers call “scratching an itch”. They are moved to do something because it itches, because it is unstable, unsolved. It is what makes Wikipedians go back to an article edit, reedit and then reedit again.

While the pursuit of factual representation of knowledge drives Wikipedia, not reaching this ideal is probably one of its greatest strengths. We don’t pretend to have collaborative image making figured out, but it itches us and we hope it itches you too.

In psychology, the Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.
Aug 4th, 2011

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