I am writing this page in response to the Dissertation Over Discourse page. It is not a value-neutral "preference". I feel it is a little hegemonic, in a way, because even though "dissertation" is reached via collaboration, it still emphasizes the hierarchical relationship between knowledge (higher) and dialogue about knowledge (lower). I suggest this might be a gender preference (perhaps see Women's Ways of Knowing ). As a woman, I prefer discourse over dissertation any time. When I write collaboratively with someone, I value the discussions we have more than the product we produce. Same goes for my classes. I value the discussion in class rather than the final product students come up with. Now I said gendered, but I am influenced also by Alexander Sidorkin (a man) in his book Beyond Discourse. Where he sees dialogue NOT as a means to an end, but as the educational end in itself. Sidorkin is also influenced by Mikhail Bakhtin, who influences me in this quote below (noting they are both men, but Eastern European men, so there might be something there; think also Vygotsky's social constructivism).
"I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another" – Bakhtin (quoted in Emerson 1983 p. 257).
Kate Bowles: Entering SFW I feel as though I've come home to a house I lived in before, perhaps while dreaming. It feels profoundly natural, even while I'm still pretty unskilled at not bumping into things. This put me in mind of Bachelard's poetic space. So it's not simply Discourse or Dissertation for me, and for this reason not simple to reduce to gender.
In the 1990s I worked extensively with a student with a diagnosed condition that expressed itself as an inability to read for long periods, follow discussions that went for longer than ten minutes, or write essays that marched neatly from beginning to end. As an aside to the work we were doing I asked if she would mind testing an interactive history CD for me that was filled with (then) innovative hypertextual links that let the user explore archival documents through many different pathways. When she came back, she said "But this is exactly how my mind works." And I realised mine did too.
Mike Caulfield: I don't think the wiki form of discourse can really be gendered, because in my experience it runs against the grain of most people of both genders. Wiki feels like a profoundly unnatural act to almost everybody. It's a learned behavior which requires a lot of unlearning.
Where one may see gender is the desire to see past individual experience to shared experience. Shared experience often papers over the lived experience of minorities. But here is where federated wiki is different -- it does not need to unnaturally force any group of people to agree to a median idea of truth or narrative.
What the disseration does is force me to try and articulate your concerns in summary, and by doing that gain an understanding of your experience. I have to try and write your experience -- I can't just assert mine. We work together instead of in opposition. That produces better discourse -- I have to read your concerns carefully in the thread, because I am going to need to articulate them back to you.
I guess what I'm saying here is I'd be careful applying traditional dichotomies to wiki -- it tends to be quite a different beast. It can't really be compared to traditional thinking on published works, being a weird blend of orality and print.