Episode: Trouble in Wikiland Edit
Federation of the Wikilands Edit
Before we proceed further, we need to discuss the nature and history of Wikiland, a place very different from the Wikigalaxy that we know well.
Wiki began in a place called the real world, a place cold and hot, wet and dry, small and large, pretty and ugly, safe and dangerous. The the real names eat or die, sleep or die, breathe or die, hide or die, and never respawn. The real names live outside wiki, and is barred from entering the interwiki connector, but their world is continuous and they walk or find rides. Imagine a place all alike yet all different from Wikigalaxy, and you have the real world.
Before wiki, the real names wandered their world, seeking knowledge and creativity, but their tools were too primitive and caused many shortages. Then the real names constructed wiki. They edited wiki from outside, and slowly improved their creation. Using wiki, they created a Wikipedia and many wiki communities. The real names began to use wiki more and more often.
Time went, and years later, some ambitious real names constructed a jack. This jack provided a path from the real world into the wiki.
Thus, decades after the original creation of Wikipedia, a split emerged among the real names. When they asked what it meant to "Live in a society that anyone could edit." One of the two rival factions wanted to build their government and economy in the real world using wikis, to reside in their Wikilands. We wanted to use the jack, to physically link ourselves to the wiki, to live and die inside a virtual world created by the wiki, to reside in this Wikigalaxy.
They did not want to join us in the Wikigalaxy, and we did not want to contribute to the Wikilands of the real world.
The Wikilands and the Wikigalaxy achieved a peace treaty. We agreed to surrender our Wikilandian citizenship and move to the remote regions of Siberia, the deserts of Africa and Australia, the caves of the Himalayas, and elsewhere, where we would jack into the Wikigalaxy in peace.
But ReportingUser knew that the peace was not holding. Their Federation of the Wikilands and our Governing Federal Democratic League were building military forces. A war of the wikiworlds was imminent.
A Conversation with Sophie Edit
(To be determined: which wiki and which apartment does this take place at?)
Reporting User was walking down the corridor of its apartment building when it noticed that a shadowy avatar was following it. Walking faster, the shadowy avatar caught up. ReportingUser turned to the Avatar and asked "Who are you?"
The Avatar responded "Hi, my username is Monowikian2719. You can call me Sophie if you prefer. Either way, I need to speak with you urgently."
Cautiously, ReportingUser enquired "What about? And why do you have two names? Where are you from?" For it was evident that the Avatar's username was, in fact Monowikian2719. The use of a second name, for example "Sophie", was at most archaic.
Sophie began saying "Well, you see, I'm visiting here - I'm from Wikiland primarily, and"
ReportingUser began to panic. From Wikiland primarily? Had the war started, or was this just another vandal or vigilante? If you often visit busy wikis, you may have glimpsed those brawls that sometimes occur when the guns are switched off. The typical weapons are furniture and food. Yet ReportingUser saw no useful objects nearby, and would have to edit something into existence.
What would work? Would be board be sufficient to fight off this "Sophie"? Would a chair be better? But this was a hallway between apartment rooms, a place safe from editing, a place that offered no way to repel "Sophie".
Then if what "Sophie" claimed was true, then this would be melee without weapons, a contest of punches and kicks, a fight to the death.
Noting ReportingUser's sense of panic, Sophie pleaded "Wait! I mean no harm! The opposite; I'm here to save your life. There's some critical information that I need to pass on... You need to understand I'm risking my very life just being here, that's how important this mission this is to me."
ReportingUser was simultaneously startled, scared, and somewhat confused at the conversation at hand. It cautiously asked Sophie a two word question "Your mission?"
Sophie began again, in a soothing tone of voice "I'm sorry, I began this discussion on the wrong foot..." At this point, Sophie was probably unsure how much ReportingUser of Wikigalaxy knew concerning the outside world. She decided to scope it out by asking him "How much do you know about the outside world? How many articles have you read about the Wikilands?"
Defensively, ReportingUser explained "I have a good general knowledge of real world affairs and history. I know, for example, all about the split between the Wikilandians and the Wikigalctics during the 2050s, just prior to the collapse of the single, global Internet. I know that the Wikilandians have entered the Wikigalaxy for their only purpose of causing pointless destruction."
"Reactionaries! Reactionary vigilantes!", Sophie corrected ReportingUser. "Not everyone from the Wikilands agrees with those radical loyalists, myself included."
This Wikilandian was not behaving Wikilandian! Somewhat confused, ReportingUser enquired "Why don't you agree?"
Sophie explained, "I am m a Monowikian, as you can tell by my user name. What you need to understand is that, at the moment, public opinion in the Wikilands is divided over the Wikigalaxy. There are reactionaries who see people jacked into the Wikigalaxy and see them as no more than an unproductive drain on society. They say, 'They lie around all day, jacked into their Wikigalaxy, comfortably jacked into the nutrient supply machines that uses valuable energy supplied by society. They contribute nothing to the Wikilandian wikis.'
Sophie then continued, "Some of the reactionaries have gone so far as to taking matters into their own hands by attacking the bodies of those jacked into the Wikigalaxy and disconnecting their nutrient supply machines. Another tactic, whenever someone located within the Wikilands a server of the Wikigalaxy servers are physically located in WikiLand, they would track down those servers and smash them to bits. Yet another tactic, others have, as you noticed, jacked into the WikiGalaxy with the sole mission of making the lives of those inside as unpleasant as possible, so that users like you will give up."
That sounded somewhat worse then what ReportingUser had heard so far. So ReportingUser became increasingly angry at these "Reactionaries" and tearsly asked, "And why are you so different, Monowikian?"
Sophie answered that "We, the Monowikians, don't believe that it has to be this way at all. We believe that the hatred of the Reactionaries has gone too far. This stupid wiki-feud should come to an end. We want to merge the wikis into a single wiki, the MonoWiki.
"We will organise it thus," said Sophie. "The MonoWiki will have three forks: a /galaxy fork, for those who chose to be permanently jacked in to the Wikigalaxy; a /wikiland fork for those who prefer to live in Wikiland; and finally a /universal fork for music, art, and entertainments of interest to both."
That was esoteric, how could Wikigalaxy and Wikiland be two forks of the same wiki?
Sophie asked ReportingUser, "See that chair?"
ReportingUser had not noticed the set of chairs in the distance.
"That chair exists as code in the WikiGalaxy. If we all shared one Wiki, the MonoWiki, then the Wikiprojects in Wikiland could take that basic design, and convert it into something that will be economical to manufacture and physically possible in the real world. In turn, the scientific discoveries of the Wikiland could be made instantly available within the Wikigalaxy, with some modification. Wikigalactics could earn their keep by spending their time designing art, cultural artifacts, and designs to be incorporated in Wikiland. A feud which has dragged on for far too long would be bought to an end for the mutual benefit of everyone."
This Monowikian activist had gone some of the way into converting ReportingUser to her ideology, when she almost blew it by blurting out "Ultimately, I'm here to save you!"
In moments, ReportingUser went from intrigued to defensive; "Why should I agree to be saved by you? Why have you seeked me out in particular. I do not need you to save me. I know, it is a fact that my own physical body lies outside any of the Wikilands."
Alarmed, Sophie responded, "There's more to the story than just the Reactionaries, my friend. We've successfully battled them in the Village Pumps around Wikiland for years. There is another threat, that thing that has forced my hand and forced me to seek you out. There is the threat of imminent war between the Federation of the Wikilands and the rogue states."
ReportingUser, expecting nonsense for an answer, asked, "Which rogue states?"
"Rogue states such as the Eurasian Confederacy, and pseudo-wikilands like Greater Lithuania. The question of war with the rogue states is not up us in the Wikilands. We have raised our forces, but Wikilandians are waiting for the rogue states to lay the first blow, before they wing for the knockout. If the Wikilands and Wikigalaxy do not unite into a MonoWiki, then the rogue states will be more than willing to host the bodies of Wikigalactics, fill the nutrient supply machines and host the servers. But in exchange, they will demand your brainpower and ideas, and use them in their weapons and tactics against the Wikilandians and the Wikiland DefenceProjectMilitias."
While listening to Sophie, ReportingUser had rapidly gone from fearing Sophie to fearing the truth in what she was describing, fearing that these unknown rogue states would force Wikigalactics into a war. Sophie, so that there was no doubt in ReportingUser's mind, concluded her monologue and - fortunately - did not put her foot in her mouth while doing so this time: "The time is rapidly coming to make a choice - to use an old cliche - for you to choose a side, for the Wikigalactics to choose a side. Are Wikigalactics for the Wikilands or against them? I'm sorry to say that there appears to be no middle way."
ReportingUser noted that there was still one question left unanswered, "So why have you chosen me? Why have you risked your life to jack in to the WikiGalaxy to specifically seek me out? If what you said is true, then if the Reactionaries catch you here, they would surely kill you forever! Why go to that"
Sophie replied "Because the Governing Federal Democratic League and the Wikigalactics respect you! You have already proven yourself, both to the bureaucrats, and to your fellow Wikigalactics. And in a Participatory Democracy, what matters is not the great leaders, but rather the opinion of the masses. Our mission, our politics, is not to win some positions on some Council, but rather to convince the masses of the rationality in our opinion, and the irrationality of our opponents. If you choose to join us, you need to realise that the was are not too far away and there is not much time left for us to win our cause."
"Well," ReportingUser skeptically responded to Sophie, "if all you say now is true, that this war is imminent, what makes you think that we can heal well-know eons-old rift that persists between the Federation of the Wikilands for the Wikilandians, and the Governing Federal Democratic League of the WikiGalactics?!" Raising its voice, "This is utopian garbage!"
"I have heard such statements before. It may be utopian", snapped Sophie, "but the consequences are far worse. How free will the Governing Federal Democratic League be if it is hosted, with all its bodies, servers, nutrient supplies, by something as nationalistic Greater Lithuania. Imagine that place, a nation where only Lithuanians and Latvians can have wiki accounts, a nationalistic resurrection of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania?"
Sophie lost ReportingUser, who was uncertain about the consequences of placing Wikigalaxy within such a state, but Sophie continued.
"How free will the League be among that hodge-podge of 19th and 20th century timewarp of economic, ideological, and political systems in the Eurasian Confederacy? And further, if these rogue states used the collective brainpower and knowledge of your Wikigalaxy as their tool in their wars with the Wikilands, how long would it take before the Militias of the Wikilands begin to systematically destroy the servers, nutrient supplies, and bodies that make up the WikiGalaxy? Think, a few vigilante vandals from Wikiland are bad. Imagine what damage a modern, trained, professional citizens' militia could do? Just because your body would not be within the territory of the Wikilands, do not for a moment make the mistake of thinking that you would be safe. Mark my words, this war will be fought in and against the Wikigalaxy, whether you like it or not."
Sophie wrapped her discussion by stating, "The War will affect you. It will affect us all. Make no mistake. The question that matters is this: Whose side are you on?"
User Monowikian2719 is offline.
ReportingUser was left alone in the hallway to consider the words of Sophie, and the fate of the Wikigalaxy. Would ReportingUser join the Monowikians, or would it let the Wikigalaxy move to the rogue states of the real world, aligning with them?
Eurasia Responds Edit
ReportingUser had been so deep in conversation and thought that it had hardly noticed a second shadowy figure had crept into the hallway. The figure walked up to ReportingUser and quietly began saying, in response to what they had overheard of Sophie's comments, "Nationalist propoganda. Pure. Wikilandian. Nationalist. Propoganda. You were right to be skeptical and doubtful about such utopian pipe dreams." This second avatar then turned to ReportingUser and introduced itself as "Agent Shawn from the Eurasian Alliance."
Now ReportingUser may have read some articles concerning the real world, but remained confused by the reference to this Eurasian Alliance. It knew of several of the governments of the outside real world, but it had never heard of such an alliance.
Agent Shawn, noting ReportingUser's uncertainty, decided to clarify by saying, "The name 'Eurasian Confederacy' is actually not the name of our political union. It is a name used in Wikilandian nationalist propoganda to dismiss us as being similar to the Confederacy in the very old American Civil War. But in truth, we are not. Rather, we are the greatest political alliance that the world has ever seen. We're an alliance of all those states, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, who have rejected the Wikiland model as a basis for government. We have assembled a coalition among States of a political ideology that, merely one century ago, would have been quite impossible to imagine. The growing and spreading scourge of the Wikilands has forged an alliance between every other type of state in the region, be they liberal-capitalist, social-democracit, communist, Islamist, monarchist, or whatever else you care to imagine. Our citizens are free to choose what kind of society they live in. Still, I can confirm some of what Sophie had to say. We are going to war with all of the members of The Federation of the Wikilands. And yes, we would like to see the Wikigalactics join us."
The initial surpise at meeting Sophie had faded from ReportingUser, who chose to handle this second visitor more carefuly. So after a moment or two, ReportingUser responded to the propoganda of Agent Shawn, choosing to point out, "Well, actually, if I know my history correctly, this isn't the first time that such an alliance has been made. If my memory serves me correctly, didn't the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union hold a conference in Iran over how to deal with a common threat, the Nazis, during World War II? That Alliance was a coalition of convenience forged against a common enemy, but as soon as they removed that common enemy, their Alliance fell apart. Well, what you describe sounds like a similar alliance, an alliance of different kinds of Government against a common enemy; in this case, that common enemy is the Federation of the WikiLands. The differnce is that the Federation of the Wikilands, for all its Reactionary faults, is far from the Nazi state." Sensing that wiki and wiki were alike, ReportingUser concluded, "Far from it; like the Wikigalaxy, the Wikilands are a society that anyone can edit"
Then the frustrated Agent Shawn cut off ReportingUser. In its interruption, it stated to the Wikigalactic, "Look, I don't want to waste your time if you are skeptical of our proposal. Though I would remind you that your real world body is in Eurasia. And that you have to choose sides. And that, now this is just a reminder, there has been years and years and years of hostility between the Wikigalactics and the Wikilandians that you would have mere months to overcome, let alone the complex technical task of merging the Wikis into a MonoWiki. Sophie was right about just one other thing: the question of whose side you are on."
The attitude of Agent Shawn caused ReportingUser to become uncomfortable. There was confirmation; this Eurasian Confederacy or Eurasian Alliance did exist and did intend to start a war against the Wikilands. If the Wikilands were enemies, than these Eurasians were worse, because they had rejected wiki and now sought the war of the wikis.
And in its mind, ReportingUser recalled the three principles of the League, the ideas of government, federalism and democracy. Among the many states of the Eurasian Alliance, of almost every political ideology, certainly some were not democratic. An Alliance or Confederacy had some appearance of federalism, but only for convenience. ReportingUser preferred Sophie's Federation of Participatory Democracy. And what of government? Government requires something better than the legacy methods of the past. Government requires a society that either the Wikilands or the League had advanced further than the Eurasian Alliance, a society constructed around wiki.
Then ReportingUser decided. The path forward, the only hope at all, would be to merge the Wikis, rather than risk a war of the Wikis. Just to make the point clear, it stared at Agent Shawn and stated, "I have made up my mind.
ReportingUser: "The society that anyone can edit is a noble goal. The societies it creates are not perfect, but ultimately, co-operation, mutuality, social trust, and reciprosity are what I believe a society should be based on. Now Sophie may have been a dreamer, but so were the Rochdale Pioneers, Robert Owen, Linus Trovalds, and Jimbo Wales. Our generation, our own time, needs its own dreamers. It does not need a cheap rehash of heirarchial systems which have helped the few at the expense of the masses, as has happened in most every other system humans has tried to this point. It needs a way forward, away from the shortages and limitations of the past.
"The way forward is wiki; a MonoWiki. I have made up my mind. You cannot persuade me. I know whose side I am on."
Agent Shawn was angered by ReportingUser's decision, but kept his tensions in check. "Very well. So be it. We will send your body to the Wikilands, with its nutrient supply. If it's MonoWiki you want, it's MonoWiki you will get. But don't expect our next meeting to be as friendly. You have been warned."
User AgentShawn is offline.
ReportingUser was left alone, again, to contemplate the implications of what would happen next.