BBC Extended – Our Encyclopedia

The BBC is on MS Teams!

link to the BBC on MS Teams:

you have to log in with:
and your password AAI
(it’s the same you use for your mailbox)

Document: How to participate to OUR ENCYCLOPEDIA. (pdf)

BBC Extended – Our Encyclopedia

Lockdown sucks. We were just starting to feel it again and now this. Really?

The BBC that was planned cannot happen but instead of trying to and online we thought it’d be more fun to figure out a different project that can engage many in many ways, wherever we are, a lot or not so much and where every contribution however tiny is valued and seen.

A project that is practical and hands on although we are not face to face. A project that is social, shared and collective but can be done at home alone, during a walk in the park or hiding under the duvet, but also result in something physical, something we can hold on to and share with others that was not part of the project, for a long time.

We also wanted to imagine a shared and collaborative project that doesn’t mean that we are bunched together in a group losing our individual voices, but at the same time are not exposed as individuals and subject to judgement. We tried to envision a project that, without being prescriptive, can continue discussions around the Work.Master and its different communities, desires, expectations, fears, people, emotions, projections and so much more.

An encyclopedia can be many things and can contain many things, but whatever its content, whatever its ambitions it’s never innocent or neutral. Many encyclopedias have been tools in the service of power and some have executed quite some power on individuals, groups and peoples. An encyclopedia cannot not homogenise knowledge and not rarely have they been created as means to educate populations and make them into obedient and constructive citizens.

Although the encyclopedia is ancient, some 2000 years, it is first with the enlightenment in the 18th century that the modern encyclopedia is established and given its mission statement, to be a “systematic analysis of the order and interrelations of human knowledge” as proposed by Denis Diderot.

This is indeed rather dubious as we can wonder what is included in system, human and knowledge and who it is that authorises what knowledge is valuable. Not every individual walking this planet has included or given a voice, not historically and not today. In fact most voices were colonialized by the voice of white, straight, Christian etc. men and encyclopedia can be understood as a tool to manifest certain kinds of knowledge, certain ways of understanding the world, ways of living and “using” the planet.

For a long time – at least until Wikipedia showed up – the Encyclopedia was understood as being the truth and nothing but the truth, with reason, rational, fact and science as supporters that should guarantee truth.

With the emergence of post-modernism the waterproof idea of truth crumbled and it became evident that also the most impressive and trustworthy of texts anyway always only is fiction. If everything is relative that includes the encyclopedia.

So, when truth finally was dethroned encyclopedias was something anybody could assume, think about and realise. Not with the aim of claiming truths but for all together new reasons, not least as a way of disseminating knowledge without hierarchies and narrative, but also as a means to scrutinize a context or to generate self-reflection, to map fields of knowledge and to make visible asymmetries in communities and political pratices.

Perhaps, today, an encyclopedia can function as a platform to engage in discussion as much as an invitation to reflect on a context without ending up in conventional forms of critique, blame or accusation. In this way it is possible to think about encyclopedia as a kind machine that, without us really knowing it, makes us see things through different lenses, open up new perspectives and to learn new things about what we since too long time has taken for granted.

For this BBC week we propose to create Our Encyclopedia. First of all as a way of surviving and staying sane, secondly as a means to continue in a different format conversations that has been urgent in our contexts, and thirdly in order to have fun and together also in times where together is banned.  

All students are invited to participate in the project that will be coordinated online, but at the same time be hands on, collaborative and result in a physical object.

After an hours or so introduction over zoom on Monday after lunch, the compilation of the encyclopedia will begin through individual and shared work, with the opportunity to throughout the days stay in touch, chat and exchange with others in a chat room or similar.

We will together and individually decide upon what words, terms and notions should be represented in Our Encyclopedia and as the contributors and editors, proof readers, translators and publisher are all of us, it is also just up to us to make Our Encyclopedia extra ordinary, inclusive, safe, thorough and thought provoking.

An entry or definition can be long or short, your or somebody else’s writing, a quote or a fake quote, suggestive or neutral, dry as conceptual art or hot, steamy and say no more… It can take hours or days to work out or a few minutes. And if you think you can’t write, ask a friend, make it into a dialogue, make up a game, cut and paste, look at a movie, write a song. There is so much fun to do with language.

Until Thursday evening we will in different ways collect entries – definitely not less than 200 – where after excessive proofreading we make it all into a cute little book.

Feels good to have collaborated around something altogether, the entire Work.Master and its extended family. Why not invite your Mother to write a post on… or create a definition that can be sang to a popular melody?

Opportunities are endless and since we are not supposed to become professions journa- or novelists, nor have endless experience of writing we can be certain this is the best encyclopedia we have every been part of. We can also think about Our Encyclopedia as a kind of exhibition space, which means we can be creative and innovative with content but don’t need to build the entire frame.

After the introduction we go to work and collect the result on line so that we can see it grow and invite others to share the process. There will be working opportunities also for those who don’t want to write, not least proofreading, translating and being great company.

We begin at 13.00 on Monday. Let’s go.

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