The Iraq War: A Historiography of Wikipedia Changelogs

The only copy of the 12-volume set

The Iraq War: A Historiography of Wikipedia Changelogs is a 12-volume set of printed books that shows every change made to the English Wikipedia article on the Iraq War from December 2004 to November 2009 and represents 12,000 changes in 7,000 printed pages. The books are an artistic visualization of the changes made to a particular article at Wikipedia. Only one copy was made, so the set has not been published and was not intended for sale.[1] The author has stated that the books have been exhibited in galleries in the USA and in Europe.[2]


The work is a historiography compiled by technology writer James Bridle. It contains changelogs of the page for the Wikipedia article on the Iraq war, including arguments, opinions and vandalism.[3] The work shows the editing process for an article and the process of creation, which includes the opinions and biases of many contributors.[4]

The author created his book as a demonstration of the process of making history. He says:

Detail of a page
It’s [Wikipedia] not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot...[5] Everything should have a history button. We need to talk about historiography, to surface this process, to challenge absolutist narratives of the past, and thus, those of the present and our future.[6]

The project encourages viewers to think of editing contributions and the collections of commentary and disagreement as part of the historical record.[7] It is also an exploration of how recent contributions to various media supplant older contributions and what content may be lost when scholars have access only to the latest publications.[8] Bridle has stated that, despite the history button being on every page of every article, few people use it and to him this phenomenon is the most interesting and enlightening part of Wikipedia.[9]


A reviewer for The Atlantic said that Bridle's explanation of the work "is a beautiful meditation on what Wikipedia means to historiography".[10] A reviewer for Time described the project as a fascinating visual aid.[1] The review in ReadWriteWeb was that the work was "pretty awesome".[11]

See also


  1. 1 2 Jones, Nate (7 September 2010). "Wikipedia Entry on Iraq War Turned Into Actual Encyclopedia". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  2. Bridle, James. "Iraq War Wikihistoriography". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  3. Geere, Duncan (8 September 2010). "Which Wikipedia page has 12 volumes worth of edits?". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  4. Bilton, Nick (9 September 2010). "The Story Behind a Wikipedia Entry -". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  5. Bridle, James (6 September 2010). "On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  6. Cole, Stryker (8 September 2010). "On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  7. Price, Andrew (16 September 2010). "An Encyclopedia of Every Edit to the Iraq War Wikipedia Entry". Good. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  8. dConstruct Conference organizer (3 September 2010). "The Value of Ruins - conference introduction". Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  9. Bridle, James (15 January 2011). "James Bridle on Wikipedia's 10th Anniversary". Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  10. Madrigal, Alexis (17 September 2010). "A Book Made from Wikipedia Edits to the 'The Iraq War' Entry". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  11. Kirkpatrick, Marshall (7 September 2010). "Archiving Iraq: One Wikipedia Entry's Edit Wars, Printed in 12 Volumes". Retrieved 28 June 2012.

External links

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