Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Social Epistemology 25:3 (July 2011), pp. 217–231; doi: 10.1080/02691728.2011.578306 Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


This essay extends the observations made in E. Johanna Hartelius’ The Rhetoric of Expertise about the nature of expertise in digital contexts. I argue that digital media introduce a scale of communication—many-to-many—that reshapes how the invention of knowledge occurs. By examining how knowledge production on Wikipedia occurs, I illustrate how many-to-many communication introduces a new model of “participatory expertise.” This model of participatory expertise challenges traditional information routines by elevating procedural expertise over subject matter expertise and opening up knowledge production to the many. Additionally, by hosting multiperspectival conversations on Wikipedia, the participatory model of expertise introduces epistemic turbulence into traditionally tranquil encyclopedia culture.