Is Wikipedia your best friend?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Last night I had the absolute pleasure to sit in on a presentation by Sue Gardner, the brilliant woman who is CEO of Wikimedia, the organisation that runs Wikipedia among other things. The presentation/interview will be aired on ABC radio tomorrow.


I admit I’m not a huge Wikipedia user but I do find some comfort in knowing there is information on just about everything just a few clicks away. Like Sue, I grew up with a set of encyclopaedia brittanica volumes that were my first point of call for school assignments and for making my journey through the awesome game ‘where in the world is Carmen Sandiego’ (I was always looking up flags, unusual animals and geography info). Now such hard copy books are a rarity, so luckily we have Wikipedia.

What inspired me most about Sue’s presentation was her confidence (strong, subtle and not brutish), her candidness on controversial topics (such as the SOPA/PIPA 24hr shutdown) and she answered all questions with enthusiasm. Her social conscious is undeniable. She talked with great affection for the ‘wikipedians’ – the creators of the content we know and love on Wikipedia. She also talked openly about the ongoing internal debates they have about censoring content related to pornography, violent crimes/offenders, and minority views.

One important point she made is that women only make up 10% of wikipedians (content creators), and much of the content comes from white guys in affluent countries (my translation :)) interesting how these numbers seem to reflect the representation of those in the ICT industry. She says they are working on strategies for increasing diversity among Wikipedians, much like we are in the wider tech industry.


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