My earlier publications, “Monetizing a Meme” and “Disrupting Academic Publishing,” focused on the control of cultural and knowledge production, the latter specifically about academic publishing, interrogating the problematic structuring of publishing and how it laid waste to university library budgets while benefiting from “free labor.” My research convinced me to commit to open access publishing – not only for academia but to benefit equity, access, and inclusion for all. Everything I publish has been open access, even when it required additional labor and funding to negotiate, apply for, and navigate. This commitment led me to teaching with and researching the largest open knowledge resource ever created, Wikipedia.
My research with and on Wikipedia remains focused on increasing representation, equity, and information literacy. “Student Learning Outcomes” and “From Opportunities to Outcomes” came from my post-doctoral project studying Wikipedia in the classroom – learning information literacy and promoting self-efficacy, particularly important for underserved populations and first-generation students. This research thread allowed me to move from theory-building to application, and mixed methods testing (computational, survey, interview, and focus group), with excellent results – not only was Wikipedia a powerful pedagogical tool, but I could delve into the deeper questions of why it was so helpful for learning numerous skills. This research thread led to “It Takes a Village to Combat a Fake News Army,” “Wikipedia as Open Educational Practice,” and “Fast Truths and Slow Truthiness,” as well as my first book, Wikipedia and the representation of reality.
Wikipedia remains an excellent subject for exploring the hidden and complex systems governing knowledge systems. It combines modern crowdsourcing ideas and systems with (surprisingly) traditional epistemological foundations to ensure reliability. My work interrogates and understands the complex assemblage of policies, technologies, access and availability of secondary information, and human labor that govern the collaboration processes on Wikipedia. Outcomes of this have been manifold, identifying sources of problematic knowledge gaps, critiquing foundational policies, and celebrating its hidden triumphs. In particular, I found the experience of Wikipedia participation imparts invaluable critical information literacy lessons and how these lessons can be harnessed for learners. My next book and new work further this inquiry, addressing historical and current issues around controlling knowledge dissemination and cultural capital, particularly focusing on collaboratively created knowledge and data and highlighting concerns over its extraction and co-option for commercial uses.