Heather Ford

Heather Ford is Associate Professor and Head of Discipline for Digital and Social Media, School of Communication, University of Technology Sydney.

  • Writing the Revolution

    Wikipedia and the Survival of Facts in the Digital Age

    Heather Ford

    A close reading of Wikipedia's article on the Egyptian Revolution reveals the complexity inherent in establishing the facts of events as they occur and are relayed to audiences near and far.

    Wikipedia bills itself as an encyclopedia built on neutrality, authority, and crowd-sourced consensus. Platforms like Google and digital assistants like Siri distribute Wikipedia's facts widely, further burnishing its veneer of impartiality. But as Heather Ford demonstrates in Writing the Revolution, the facts that appear on Wikipedia are often the result of protracted power struggles over how data are created and used, how history is written and by whom, and the very definition of facts in a digital age.

    In Writing the Revolution, Ford looks critically at how the Wikipedia article about the 2011 Egyptian Revolution evolved over the course of a decade, both shaping and being shaped by the Revolution as it happened. When data are published in real time, they are subject to an intense battle over their meaning across multiple fronts. Ford answers key questions about how Wikipedia's so-called consensus is arrived at; who has the power to write dominant histories and which knowledges are actively rejected; how these battles play out across the chains of circulation in which data travel; and whether history is now written by algorithms.

    • Paperback $25.00

Contributor

  • Wikipedia @ 20

    Wikipedia @ 20

    Stories of an Incomplete Revolution

    Joseph Reagle and Jackie Koerner

    Wikipedia's first twenty years: how what began as an experiment in collaboration became the world's most popular reference work.

    We have been looking things up in Wikipedia for twenty years. What began almost by accident—a wiki attached to a nascent online encyclopedia—has become the world's most popular reference work. Regarded at first as the scholarly equivalent of a Big Mac, Wikipedia is now known for its reliable sourcing and as a bastion of (mostly) reasoned interaction. How has Wikipedia, built on a model of radical collaboration, remained true to its original mission of “free access to the sum of all human knowledge” when other tech phenomena have devolved into advertising platforms? In this book, scholars, activists, and volunteers reflect on Wikipedia's first twenty years, revealing connections across disciplines and borders, languages and data, the professional and personal.

    The contributors consider Wikipedia's history, the richness of the connections that underpin it, and its founding vision. Their essays look at, among other things, the shift from bewilderment to respect in press coverage of Wikipedia; Wikipedia as “the most important laboratory for social scientific and computing research in history”; and the acknowledgment that “free access” includes not just access to the material but freedom to contribute—that the summation of all human knowledge is biased by who documents it.

    Contributors

    Phoebe Ayers, Omer Benjakob, Yochai Benkler, William Beutler, Siko Bouterse, Rebecca Thorndike-Breeze, Amy Carleton, Robert Cummings, LiAnna L. Davis, Siân Evans, Heather Ford, Stephen Harrison, Heather Hart, Benjamin Mako Hill, Dariusz Jemielniak, Brian Keegan, Jackie Koerner, Alexandria Lockett, Jacqueline Mabey, Katherine Maher, Michael Mandiberg, Stephane Coillet-Matillon, Cecelia A. Musselman, Eliza Myrie, Jake Orlowitz, Ian A. Ramjohn, Joseph Reagle, Anasuya Sengupta, Aaron Shaw, Melissa Tamani, Jina Valentine, Matthew Vetter, Adele Vrana, Denny Vrandečić

    • Paperback $27.95