Separation of Concerns

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By John Wilbanks and Carolina Rossini:

"The implementation of separation of concerns increases the “modularity” of software systems, technical networks, online encyclopedias, and more. The knowledge product is built into a cohesive whole out of a set of disparate parts or modules. This approach allows for many different knowledge creators to work on a similar task, without deep personal interaction, while still knowing that the knowledge created (whether wiki articles into an encyclopedia, or a web browser) will “snap together” if everyone involved follows the community and technical standards.


Separating concerns is a subtle concept, but a very powerful one. It runs through the worlds of distributed innovation and peer production, from the human level – edits to one article within Wikipedia do not affect other articles inside Wikipedia – to the technical level, in which one can simply install a piece of software on a computer without a deep knowledge of the levels of software already in operation." (


"In a cultural knowledge product like Wikipedia, the technical stack of infrastructure is embedded, and invisible to the end user. Wikipedia exists at one level because of the existence of the Internet itself, because the creator of wiki software did not have to ask permission of the creators of the Web for permission to run software on it, just as Tim Berners-Lee did not have to ask permission of the creators of the Internet to release the Web to run on it, and so on. The technical design of the Internet separates the issues of how to move information around from the issues of how to run applications and to present information. The system is designed from the beginning to allow for technologies that were not yet imaginable by the creators to flourish, for unintended uses to be enabled by default. Wikipedia sits atop this structure, technically, as do the end-user interfaces on users’ computers, cell phones, and other network access points." (

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