29 Jan 2018
This review would look nice in Motherboard or maybe the New Yorker’s Goings On About Town.
The web art project Wikibabel makes notable advances in the genre of creative textual generation. Whereas previous projects often felt like ‘word salad,’ where the textual products don’t hold up to close reading, Wikibabel feels more realistic. By pioneering new techniques for large scale text generation, the output creates a web of interrelated components that are greater than the sum of its parts. Granted, the project is still absurd at times, but there is context you want to believe this world exists somewhere.
As product of our current political and social climate, Wikibabel challenges our notions of how knowledge is produced. In a world of fake news where the nature of truth and facts are stretched to the breaking point, Wikibabel brings us one step closer. By making explicit the systems of bias in knowledge production, such as the gender skew of Wikipedia editors (90% male), we see – in humorous and sometimes appalling ways – how something so obviously factual as an encyclopedia is actually subjective in its many layers of creation.