How has Wikipedia impacted music encyclopedias?

Laurenz Lütteken, Anna-Lise Santella, and Harry White discuss how the advent of Wikipedia has impacted the field of musical reference works.

A group of distinguished academics and publishers discuss “Referencing music in the twenty-first century: Encyclopedias of the past, present, and future”. This was for a conference organized by The International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centers (IAML) and the International Musicological Society (IMS). The purpose of the conference was to grapple with “Music Research in the Digital Age” and the changes and challenges therein. The conversation was wide ranging and covered topics as diverse as Wikipedia, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s early music dictionary, and Irish musical lexicography. The participants were Anna-Lise Santella, Editor of Grove Music Online, Don M. Randel, Editor of the Harvard Dictionary of Music, Harry White, Co-general Editor of EMIR, Hanns Werner Heister, Co-editor of the KDG, Laurenz Lütteken, Editor in Chief of MMG, Tina Frühauf, Editor of RILM, and Álvaro Torrente of the Diccionario de Música Española e Hispanoamericana.

Full event videos –
Part 1:
Part 2:

© Oxford University Press


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One Reply to “How has Wikipedia impacted music encyclopedias?”

  1. I'm very grateful to OUP for sharing this video on the topic of Wikipedia, and pleased to see what the final speaker says about Grove accounts being available to Wikipedians so they can improve the articles. I'm glad she acknowledges that the paywall – which exists for understandable financial reasons – has a major downside, being a barrier to wider understanding and engagement with musicology. The first speaker, I disagree with: he states as bold fact some ideas about Wikipedia that seem to be misconceptions.

    Firstly, it's not true that Wikipedia has a competing concept of knowledge that replaces traditional scholarly publishing. As tertiary literature, Wikipedia is dependent on peer-reviewed publications and the scholarly process to decide what is true: Wikipedia just aims to summarise this knowledge and make it accessible to the world.

    Secondly, Wikipedia editing does not hold "no consequences for the individual": vandals can be banned; agenda-pushers are restricted; people who contribute to articles that are reviewed as professional-quality can reflect that on their user profiles, and this is publicly checkable. Wikipedia contribution records can be, and have been, a factor in recruitment to academic posts. This seems as far as possible from "no consequences".

    Thirdly, Wikipedia editing is not necessarily anonymous: users are not required to give their names or affiliations, but many do. Given that Wikipedia summarises already existing sources, which are checkable by other users, the identity of the contributor is not as important as it is in original research. Still, many academics take it as a principle that evidence and argument should stand on their own merits, so Wikipedia shouldn't be blamed for instantiating this principle.

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