The Romantic Collective Author

The Romantic Collective Author

Margaret Chon · 14 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 829

Abstract

Although the romantic collective author is a much more elusive creature than its romantic individual counterpart, it can be discerned amidst the proliferation of expression on the Internet. This Article first outlines the ways in which the romantic author effect operates through both its genius and its arbiter prongs within collaborative authorship practices in digital networks. It next turns to scientific collaboration,
where this author effect is attenuated, to assess whether scientific authorship practices might contribute to a more realistic and less romantic understanding of expressive authorship practices. A subsequent case study of collaborative digital authorship by Wikipedia contributors uncovers some of the underlying social processes giving rise to Wikipedia’s position of collective genius and authority. Analysis of these collaborative authorship processes reveals implicit certification functions, which can obscure various biases that should be addressed in order to shape a more inclusive and reliable knowledge environment.