Larry Sanger

By: Matthew Battles
July 16, 2009


The falling out of Wikipedia founders Jimmy Wales and LARRY SANGER (born 1968) has become the stuff of legend — or an endless cycle of flames and manifestos, which is the form legend takes in the information age. But unlike the tales of other failed duos in the Internet pantheon, the story of Sanger and Wales hinges on matters of philosophical interest. At first blush, Wales’s version of Wikipedia — encyclopedism for everyone — would seem the broader vision. Sanger, who left Wikipedia (if one ever can truly leave it) to found a specialist-moderated encyclopedia called Citizendium, harbors a notion that seem more moderate: experts working together with the rest of us; knowledge proposing, but curiosity disposing. Upon closer examination, however, it’s the latter idea that’s more utopian. For expertise will always exist, alongside more practical and proletarian needs, passions, and curiosities. Sanger’s confederation of dunces and dons is a truly radical vision: less Diderot redux than a re-enlightening of the Enlightenment.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Chris Pontius |

READ MORE about members of the Reconstructionist Generation (1964–1973).


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