Wiki As Cabinet of Curiosity


Cabinet of Curiosity

Cabinet of curiosity (also known as chamber of marvels, Wunderkammer): the British Library defines curiosity cabinets as "small collections of extraordinary objects which, like today's museums, attempted to categorize about the wonders and oddities of the natural world ... [they] were intended to work like plays or stories, representing particular themes or ideas." Curiosity cabinets often resided in the home of passionate collectors to show off their status and wealth. They reached the apex of their popularity in the Victorian era. Curiosity cabinets led to the "curio cabinets" that we know today as the idea eventually became familiar to the middle class (from Mental Floss).

This Mental Floss article also explains curiosity cabinets and provides a list of some of the more famous collectors (Beatrix Potter and FDR are on the list).

I also discussed Wunderkammer in one of my blog posts.

How Does the Wiki Fit In?

Wikis are like a curiosity cabinet that has the potential to lead to more curiosity cabinets than you could have imagined. Wikis establish a place like curiosity cabinets -- that of a collection of items (or words or articles, etc.) that can be used to form a more cohesive theme or idea once put in the same place. The linking of materials to other materials (or the collection of multiple extraordinary items) is what makes wikis great and useful (and what made curiosity cabinets so great and useful). However, the space that wikis establish is more accessible and focused more on helping each other, whereas curiosity cabinets were initially less accessible and more focused on education. Both accept -- no, thrive -- on the unique and extraordinary. -DanielleNicholson


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