Making Knowledge: How Wikipedia Shapes the World


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A examination of how Wikipedia's gender gap influences its content and the world's perception of a variety of topics.

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Making Knowledge: How Wikipedia Shapes the World

  1. 1. Making Knowledge How Wikipedia shapes the world Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow Center for Digital Learning and Research Occidental College 18 April 2013
  2. 2. Wikipedia policies and the construction of knowledge Source: xkcd
  3. 3. What is a fact?  Sources: The Human Stain  Competing narratives: History of the Catholic Church  Framing information:  Rape and pregnancy controversies in United States elections, 2012 (today)  Rape and pregnancy controversies in United States elections, 2012 (first version, 21 August 2012)  Rape and pregnancy controversies in United States elections, 2012 (20 November 2012)
  4. 4. Editing Wikipedia is as…  Jane Austen …easy as the click of a button.
  5. 5. …but not everyone does. The encyclopedia anyone can edit…
  6. 6. Statistics and image: Wikimedia Foundation (Khanna 2012)
  7. 7. Statistics and image: Wikimedia Foundation, (Khanna 2012)
  8. 8. Spatial distribution of edits for the English Wikipedia in one day Source: Zachte (2011)
  9. 9. Every edit is political
  10. 10. Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, User: Salimfadhley Consent • ―Let's call this a matter of perspective. I am a woman. If anyone ever shows up in a delivery room where I am giving birth and attempts to use "she's lying down" as a pretext to take photographs without my permission, I will leap from the gurney, tackle the SOB, and eat the camera.‖ – User:Durova Source: The moment of birth
  11. 11. ―Feminine‖ content  Jimmy Wales: ―We have over 100 articles on different Linux distributions, some of them quite obscure … and [they have] virtually no impact on the broader culture, but we think that’s perfectly fine.‖ The same editors who deem those Linux articles important might dismiss articles on makeup, say, as ―some fluffy girl topic‖— despite significant cultural impact. (Bosch, 2012) Image: CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
  12. 12. ….or, am I a man? ….or, am I a cyborg?
  13. 13. ―The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world‖ Donna Haraway, ―The Cyborg Manifesto‖ (1991)
  14. 14. ―The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self. This is the self feminists must code.‖ Donna Haraway, ―The Cyborg Manifesto‖ (1991)
  15. 15. Bibliography  Antin, Judd; Yee, Raymond; Cheshire, Coye; and Nov, Oded. ―Gender Differences in Wikipedia Editing.‖ ACM Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration. 2011.  Bosch, Torie. ―How Kate Middleton’s Wedding Gown Demonstrates Wikipedia’s Woman Problem.‖ Slate (13 July 2012).  Cohen, Noam. ―Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions.‖ The New York Times (30 January 2011).  Glott, Ruediger; Ghosh, Rishab. ―Analysis of Wikipedia Survey Data: Age and Gender Differences.‖ UNU-MERIT. March 2010.  Haraway, Donna. ―A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.‖ Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.  Khanna, Ayush. ―Nine out of ten Wikipedians continue to be men: Editor Survey.‖ Wikimedia Foundation Blog (27 April 2012).  Reagle, J., & Rhue, L. ―Gender Bias in Wikipedia and Britannica.‖ International Journal of Communication 5:0 (8 August 2011).  Reagle, Joseph. ―’Free as in sexist?’ Free culture and the gender gap.‖ First Monday 18.1 (2 January 2013).  Wikipedia Gender Gap Listserv Archives. March 2011.  Zachte, Erik. ―Wikipedia edits visualized.‖ Infodisiac. 9 May 2011.