Ik lees me naar een meerstemmig wikipedia.
In the modern world, encyclopaedias (restricting the discussion, just for the moment, to general encyclopaedias) are surrounded by a strange, twilit aura. They are respected as clear and reliable sources of knowledge, but there is something greyly utilitarian in their often workday prose. The ‘circle of knowledge’ is ambiguous: a satisfying image of completeness, or a suffocating symbol of closure and futility. They are written by experts and consulted by amateurs, or by schoolchildren doing their homework. Unless it is to grouse, how often will an expert on Ming vases consult the article on that subject in a general encyclopaedia? Encyclopaedias are (like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra) books for everybody and for nobody. They boast of the number of entries they contain, but usually, the more entries (or ‘headwords’), the smaller the entries and the greater the fragmentation. They pride themselves on being up to date, but they become obsolete more rapidly than the weather forecast. No other cultural edifice is simultaneously so monumental and so fragile. An encyclopaedia is ‘all you need to know’, and yet any encyclopaedia worth its name will constantly undermine this claim to self-sufficiency, referring outwards, either internally (‘see also’ – the cross-references that remind you that every individual article is a fragment) or externally (in the form of a bibliography). The circle of knowledge soon turns into a spiral, with a considerable centrifugal torque. Stylistically, they tend to a certain monotony, a dryness of exposition and a sobriety of enumeration, which I have dutifully mimicked. – A brief history of encyclopaedias, from Pliny to Wikipedia, Andrew Brown
Door te zien wat iets (niet) is, zien wat iets (niet) zou kunnen zijn.
– Self-sufficient: de bronnen ipv bibliografie
– Fragmentation: boeken begraven
– Web: an entry can have any length (annihilation of space and time)
– Monotony: many voices
– Niemand gaat een encyclopedie lezen (‘schoolchildren doing their homework’)
‘Workday prose’ zou ik vertalen met zoiets als ‘werkmansproza’ of ‘stopverfproza’. Encyclopedieën zijn inderdaad opschepperig. Op de homepage van Wikipedia prijken de aantallen artikelen als rozetten onder de landen. Betrokkenheidsindex.