On Tuesday, May 15th Yuval Saar, design reporter for Haaretz, published a lengthy interview with us about the Wikipedia Illustrated project. The article was first published in Hebrew and then translated and published in English on the Haaretz.com site.
The interview covers some of the themes we discuss through images in the blog and it goes especially into the suspicions raised by our peer illustrators, who are less excited about disappearing within the endless pages of Wikipedia.
To the surprise of some (not us) the comments quickly turned negative. This project is obviously seen as provocative to many who insist on an automatic rejection of the visual contribution idea. Some stated the need to keep illustrations technical, others went as far as warning us to stay off their Wikipediaâ€¦
Here are a few notable comments translated into English:
03 – No illustration and no nothing. Let Wikipedia be. It’s an important encyclopedia and as such it is not supposed to be entertaining or visually pleasing
If you want, you can make a Wikipedia for children (like there is a Jerusalem Post in light Hebrew for new immigrants), there you can put illustrations and Flash effects as far as you can imagine.
But leave this reservoir to people who don’t want to be distracted.
â€”Don’t touch my wiki
13 – The Illustrations themselves are beautiful
Though from the examples stated in the article it is not clear how much they fit as illustrations to an encyclopedic article, but in my opinion it is an interesting experiment to challenge the Wikipedian character and to offer it a more artistic extension. Maybe there’s room for “artistic impressions” under articles, maybe on a separate page (like the talk page) and maybe otherwise.
Maybe there’s room for things like that in Wikipedia and maybe not, one thing for sure, comments like the ones above (most of them, unfortunately), helps to make certain the fastened stiffening of Wikipedia and the closing of its community. Maybe it’s a good thing, I don’t know, but a mix of ideas and new approaches is mostly a useful thing for long term projects, so maybe also not.
Either way, one thing is for sure, Wikipedians don’t have a sense of humor, or a sense of art.
15 – In my opinion this is a beautiful project
I don’t really understand the fuss in the comments – the analysis of the articles is artistic and associative – it’s a personal project and in my opinion the idea is charming and it’s actually very refreshing that the illustration is not one to one. The beauty of Wikipedia is that it’s a platform open to the public, and in that it is also open to artistic interpretation on the side of the article. It is clear and obvious that Wikipedia is an Encyclopedia that is written by the wide public and hence it would feature different types of expression of information and now also an illustrative analysis.
There was more back and forth going on in the comments on the Hebrew version of the article which you can probably get some sense of through Google Translate. Overall, we’re very excited about the heated debate. It is after all exactly the conversation we want to have, and this interview was a great opportunity to start having it.
Another interesting effect of this exposure is that it seems some vigilante Wikipedia editors have decided to go on a crusade and remove each of our illustrations from Wikipedia. But on that we would follow on a separate postâ€¦