During this year’s summer term I am going to offer an advanced seminar I christened “Ethnologie enzyklopädisch”, roughly translated “Sociocultural Anthropology encyclopedia style”. The widely visible result of the seminar shall be a completely overworked entry Ethnologie—and maybe changing of items closely linked to it—within the German version of the Wikipedia. The rationale behind the project consists of a row of strategical thoughts and didactical ponderings.

First of all the Wikipedia is widely consulted and read, an empirical piece of reality not to ignore. Hence for the sake of the discipline we simply have to make sure that the entry on it is not only accurate, but state-of-the-art. Or, as Lord Nelson would put it: Academia expects every anthropologist to do his duty. The current entry “Ethnologie” is not to my satisfaction, so something has to be done. Especially because not only the “wider public,” but also students of anthropology use the Wikipedia. This leads me to the next point, because “know your tools” is an indispensable rule. In my mind students nowadays simply have to be informed about the principle, the system, and the inner workings of Wikipedia, and although about the adjoined controversy and discussion.

While working on and maintaining the entry DeFRaG at the English version of Wikipedia, I came into close contact with a lot of the so-called policies. The latter are a great repository of fundamentals of precise academic writing—especially encyclopedic writing, of course—, in other words usable as a didactic means. To a certain degree at Wikipedia all that which happens behind closed doors at the traditional encyclopedias happens in public. A chance not to be bypassed in teaching, in my opinion.

Now, via Warauduati I was redirected to Maximilian Forte‘s Open Anthropology and there I found an entry on the Uncyclopedia, Wikipedia’s satirical pendant. The entry Anthropologist there simply is hilarious, Ethnologie in the German version of the Uncyclopedia to a certain degree, too. Well, I won’t redirect my seminar to the Uncyclopedia, but writing satire is apt to sharpen once intellect and furthermore, the Uncyclopedia can be used as a kind of overpressure valve for the seminar’s crew. I will force the attendants to form task groups, and I know that a lot of unimaginable jokes are coming up, when working within a group. Jokes are valuable, now there is a place to dump them and thus prevent them from vanishing into oblivion.

P.S.: For those into computer games and being able to read German, check out the Uncyclopedia entries Counter Strike and Counter-Strike.