Submissions/Wikipedia and breaking news: ‘Not quite encyclopedic?’

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Submission no. 1130
Title of the submission
Wikipedia and breaking news: ‘Not quite encyclopedic?’
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Heather Ford
E-mail address
Country of origin
South Africa
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Oxford University, Oxford Internet Institute
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Some of the highest trafficked articles (by editor and reader count) are articles relating to breaking news on English Wikipedia. These articles are unique because they are often started early on in the history of the event when information about the event is still unstable and yet to be analysed by what counts as the most authoritative source on Wikipedia: peer reviewed, academic publications. How do Wikipedians manage the collaborative process during these volatile information environments? How do editors local to an event interface with those outside the country in the information verification process? What sources do they employ? From whose perspectives does the narrative unfold? How are tensions and conflicts managed and what is their role in the evolution of the article?

In this presentation, I will show the results of my recent PhD research on articles about rapidly evolving political events that have been constructed in recent years. I will talk about my methods for visualizing an article’s sources over time, and about my experience interviewing Wikipedians about their own contributions and narratives about breaking news articles. The focus of this talk will be on the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the 2014 Crimean Crisis articles. I will talk about the research that has been done on Wikipedia and breaking news as well as some of the theories of news and knowledge production that this phenomenon speaks to. Finally, I will discuss the current gaps in the literature and about the ways in which we understand Wikipedia within the larger news and media ecosystem both globally and within particular regions of the world.

I am a long time supporter of Wikipedia as a former member of the Wikimedia Advisory Board and Creative Commons activist and African digital commons supporter. My research on Wikipedia has taken me to the Egypt, Jordan and Kenya in recent years where I have been particularly interested in the ways in which Wikipedians manage the goal of producing an encyclopedia that reflects ‘all human knowledge’, within the constraints of information exchange patterns around the world. I am interested in who has the power to define, categorise and narrate stories about people in different places and how Wikipedia’s platform, practices, people and places defines what those stories will look like.

WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
yes, probably
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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  1. Ocaasi (talk) 23:22, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
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