Wikifying bibliography

I’m intrigued by what wikis can offer as a critical tool, as an embodiment of evolutionary bibliography. Pop-culture fandom is way ahead of the curve here, with sites such as the Buffyverse and Lostpedia tracking every bit of minutiae relating to their respective storyworlds, but there are many bodies of “classical” literature, such as Balzac’s Comedie Humaine, that could benefit from the hyperlinking and visualization capabilities afforded by the wiki format. Likewise, the ability of the wiki to adapt to new interpretations of such works (and, as importantly, to archive previous versions and interpretations for posterity) seems invaluable. Beyond that, it hits at the question of cognitive modeling and how our brains go about processing narrative and other info.

My chief illustration is drawn from the work of R.A. Lafferty, a science fiction writer with a notoriously tangled bibliography. Lafferty borrowed from Balzac in creating his vast, interconnected, shaggy universe, packed with multiple planes of reality, alternate selves, and fuzzy plotlines. For any bibliographic exercise on Lafferty to be successful, it must make sense of the totality of his created world–an enterprise impossible in print format.

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