The Problems with Genius: Annotation, Consensus, and Bias

Published in Manuscripts and Machines, 2015

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Like Wikipedia, Genius assumes that collaboratively-authored annotations can lead to a stable, monolithic truth about a text, a kind of crowdsourced exegesis. This model fails to respect the possibilities of divergent readings and collapses ambiguity into single narratives authored via consensus. Online consensus, however, often reinscribes the worst biases and inequalities of contemporary society while allowing its worst actors to hide behind pseudonyms and sockpuppet accounts. The idea of an objective, unbiased crowd is fiction.

Widner, Michael. “The Problems with Genius.” Manuscripts and Machines. 25 April 2015.