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In Lab today, I was prepared to learn the technological eccentricities of creating and organizing content on Wikipedia. As I have already decided to accept the Wikipedia assignment, I knew that an application of Terranova’s concept of Free Labor would be blatantly obvious. However, I was struck at not only the amount of ‘labor’ needed to post on Wikipedia, but the amount of labor needed to learn how to post on Wikipedia. It’s not enough to just have knowledge of a particular topic to post about, but to know how to post it correctly. If I make an incorrectly formatted edit, the site itself will not stop me, but the users of the site will. Before posting, there are ‘how-to’ articles to read and formatting codes to analyze on Wikipedia’s ‘cheat-sheet.’ It’s difficult to shake the feeling of being stuck in a “Wiki-opticon,” knowing that any user, from as close as Brown’s campus to half-way across the world, could be watching me and ready to point out my error. Posting on Wikipedia is much like any other job.

For example, if I begin work offline in the real-world at a Media Company, I can have extensive prior experience in Media (from this very class, for instance), but nothing will prepare me for the “culture” of the work environment except actually working in the environment. I’m now starting work at the company called “Wikipedia,” but there’s a big difference – I’m not being paid. This isn’t a game with labor designed for entertainment, like World of Warcraft, so why am I expected to return and contribute? What is my compensation? I expect to explore these and other questions next week in my assignment.