Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
23 Everett Street, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138
Wikipedia, largely used as a synecdoche for open production generally, is a large, complex, distributed system that needs to solve a set of "open problems" efficiently in order to thrive. In this talk, I'll use the metaphor of biology as a "living system" to discuss the relationship between subsystem efficiency and the overall health of Wikipedia. Specifically, I'll describe Wikipedia's quality control subsystem and some trade-offs that were made in order to make this system efficient through the introduction of subjective algorithms and human computation. Finally, I'll use critiques waged by feminist HCI to argue for a new strategy for increasing the adaptive capacity of this subsystem and speak generally about improving the practice of applying subjective algorithms in social spaces. Live demo included!
Aaron Halfaker is an American computer scientist who is an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation. Halfaker earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the GroupLens research lab at the University of Minnesota in 2013. He is known for his research on Wikipedia and the decrease in the number of active editors of the site. He has said that Wikipedia began a "decline phase" around 2007 and has continued to decline since then. Halfaker has also studied automated accounts on Wikipedia, known as "bots", and the way they affect new contributors to the site. He has developed a tool for Wikipedia editing called "Snuggle", the goal of which is to eliminate vandalism and spam, and to also highlight constructive contributions by new editors. He has also built an artificial intelligence engine for Wikipedia to use to identify vandalism.
These tell a story in order. The talk will cover a bit of each. Read from top to bottom and stop when you get bored or run out of time.