Transboundary E-waste

A Detour Through the Wikiweb I.

In creating the web corpus for all URLs found through our initial Google search queries, Wikipedia articles were included as results in multiple queries. Wikipedia pages, much like the scholarly literature on electronic waste for which a separate corpus was created, require specific and individualized attention given their user accessibility and malleability.

Our initial Google query resulted in 5 Wikipedia entries being included in the corpus:Below is a visualization of these entries and the concepts (or semantic terms) they link to on Wikipedia. The visualization is, in effect, a visualization of the web of meanings with which the above entries are associated within Anglophone Wikipedia pages. The web shows us how users of Wikipedia are conceptualizing the topic of electronic waste. An exploration of the web in the visualization shows both what is being included and, of course, hints at a variety of exclusions in the conceptualization of electronic waste within the Anglophone Wikipedia pages. Users can explore the visualization within this page or launch it in a separate window by clicking here or the "Source" tab below the image.

When a user accesses a Wikipedia page they are not presented with a fixed article as they would be with other URLs in our corpus or a scholarly article, but the most recent version of it. Users in addition to being able to access Wikipedia freely also have the ability to create and edit any articles as they see fit. As a result, a Wikipedia article can be taken to be a living artifact undergoing continuous revisions between users holding contesting points of view (POVs) (Borra et al., 2015a). As per Wikipedia’s Core Content Policies, these POVs must be negotiated to present a “neutral point of view” for the article at large “representing significant views fairly, proportionately and without bias” (Wikipedia contributors, 2016). But notice how two substantially different organizations, the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), receive an equal number links from Wikipedia articles concerned with e-waste. BAN is an organization with perhaps half a dozen employees and a budget of approximately $1 million. EPA, on the other hand, employs over 15,000 people with a budget exceeding $8 billion. Yet, the two organizations appear of equal significance in the linking behavior of Wikipedia entries on e-waste. This linking behavior of Wikipedia contributors points to how entries can, despite the Core Content Policies, shape disproportionate representations of an issue.


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