There is an interesting essay over at meta.wikimedia about Wikipedia power structure: Wikimedia’s present power structure is a mix of anarchic, despotic, democratic, republican, meritocratic, plutocratic, technocratic, and bureaucratic elements.
Wow! The entire self-reflection of the Wikipedia community is amazing and the topic is very interesting.
Personally I find interesting how much these policies and ethos are created by the community (the humans) and how much they are created by the socio-technical system (the Mediawiki software). My impression is that the software influences a lot and the same community will perform very differently under different softwares: I think it is often mentioned that Wikis work because it is very easy (easier?) fix things than destroying them, but this is a feature of the software and of the buttons and functionalities (such as rollback) that the software gives to users.
Many of these points resonates in me since I read the glorious book by Lawrence Lessig Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace but now I’m in a position to test them … at least in Wikipedia! I guess I would be classified as a technocratic ;)
The essay is released under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License, so, just because I can, I copy and paste the original HTML after the jump (and most links are of course broken). Enjoy!