Review: An interview with David Shankbone

Some of my friends are continually baffled by the time and energy I put into writing and editing for Wikipedia and similar projects. My friend David Shankbone, whom I’ve known about a year through our Wikipedia work, was recently interviewed for The Brooklyn Rail, and expressed a number of views that more or less reflect my own.

In addition to editing Wikipedia, David is a prolific photographer, who essentially gives his photos to the public with no strings attached. These include photos of politicians (Shimon Peres, Charles Schumer, Ron Wyden, Ralph Nader), celebrities (Stephen Colbert, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore), and many others.

He is also an accredited reporter for Wikinews, for which he has interviewed Presidential candidates, novelists, and the president of the ACLU.

David’s approach to his work takes him in directions different from my own, and I always enjoy seeing what he’s up to. He is more apt to get involved in disputes about policy, content, etc. than me, which is important but often tiring and thankless work. A few quotes from the interview:

  • I wanted to create a body of work of high enough quality, and of enough relevance to people, that they could make use of it. Authors writing books who need them illustrated. Small town newspapers who can’t afford Getty Images. Artists who want to create multi-media works.
  • Media narratives, wielded by editors who think that the same things need to be said to verify opinions their readers already hold, are one of the worst things in the mainstream media. They are boring. They do not educate.
  • Even a Billy West interview was hard to publish, because it was so personal for him. Did he really want to talk about this stuff? I am guessing so. Why me? Why now?
  • I feel I understand and know very little, which is part of the reason I like to talk to people.

This interview is a fascinating read, especially for anyone who’s ever wondered “what’s the point of all this Wikipedia stuff?” Read the full interview here.


One Response to “Review: An interview with David Shankbone”

  1. Pete, I am very honored and flattered by this review. Pete Forsyth, of course, neglects to mention he is one of the most trusted and balanced editors on Wikipedia, so I am very humbled by what he writes above.


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