Heather Ford has worked as a researcher, activist, journalist, educator and strategist in the fields of online collaboration, intellectual property reform, information privacy and open source software in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. She is currently a DPhil student at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University where she is studying how Wikipedia editors write history as it happens in a format that is unprecedented in the history of encyclopedias. Before this, she worked as an ethnographer for Ushahidi, the Kenyan-based non-profit technology company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping where she studied how Wikipedia and Ushahidi communities work together to verify information collected from social media sources. In 2011, she graduated from the UC Berkeley iSchool Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program. She is a former Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board member and the former Executive Director of iCommons – an international organisation started by Creative Commons to connect the open education, access to knowledge, free software, open access publishing and free culture communities around the world. She was a co-founder of Creative Commons South Africa and of the South African non-profit, The African Commons Project and worked as an activist and program manager in Johannesburg and London for the Association for Progressive Communications in the time leading up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). At night she dreams about writing books and finding time to draw.
online collaboration, Middle East media, conflict in online communities, ethnography, media objectivity and bias, open access, online identity, reputation, privacy, epistemology
Positions held at the OII
- DPhil Alumnus, November 2015 -
- DPhil Student, October 2012 - October 2015
September 2013 -
OxDEG, the Oxford Digital Ethnography Group, comprises students and faculty members from Oxford University who discuss and share ideas about the evolution of ethnography in a heavily mediated world.
November 2010 -
This project brings together OII research fellows and doctoral students to shed light on the incorporation of new users and information into the Wikipedia community.
June - August 2014
This project aims to develop a set of lenses for analyzing Wikipedia’s geographical scope whilst employing a reflexive analytical process to expose the makings of the ‘big data’ that we will produce.
April 2011 - January 2014
Using Wikipedia to explore the participation gap between those who have their say, and those whose voices are pushed to the side, in representations of the Arab world online.
- Ford, H. (2014) Infoboxes and cleanup tags: Artifacts of Wikipedia news making. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism.
- Ford, H. (2014) Big Data and Small: Collaborations between ethnographers and data scientists. Big Data and Society 1 (2). doi 10.1177/2053951714544337
- Ford, H. (2013) Review of 'code/space: software and everyday life' by R. Kitchin and M. Dodge; MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 40 (4) 759-760.
- Ford, H. (2012) Crowd Wisdom. Index on Censorship 41 (4) 33-39.
- Armstrong, C. and H. Ford (2006) Africa and the Digital Information Commons: An Overview. Southern African Journal of Information and Communication 7: 4-21.
- Ford, H. (2011) The Missing Wikipedians. In Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz (eds), Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader, Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011. ISBN: 978-90-78146-13-1.
- Ford, H., Sen, S., Musicant, D.R., and Miller, N. (2013) Getting to the Source: Where does Wikipedia Get Its Information From? Presented at WikiSym '13, August 5-7, 2013, Hong Kong, China.
- Ford, H. and Geiger, S. (2012) Writing up rather than writing down: Becoming Wikipedia literate. Proc. WikiSym '12, 2012.
- Geiger, S. and Ford, H. (2011) Participation in Wikipedia's article deletion processes. Proc. WikiSym '11, 2011.
- Ford, H. (2013) Wikipedia, Kenya and Code. Presented at the 'Off the Radar: Stories, Insight, Action!' panel, 2013 Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium. January 2013.
- Ford, H. (2012) Managing sources during high volume news events. Presented at the 'Wikipedia in the Twitter Age' panel, Wikimania 2012, Washington DC, July 2012.
- Ford, H. and Geiger, S. (2012) Writing up rather than writing down: Becoming Wikipedia literate. WikiSym, 8th International Symposium on Wikis & Open Collaboration, Linz, Austria, May 2012.
- Ford, H. (2012) Wikipedia Sources: Managing Sources in Rapidly Evolving Global News Articles on the English Wikipedia. Ushahidi Working Paper, 2012.
- Ford, H. (2011) Learning in a WikiWorld: How new media and open collaboration are changing what we know and how we know it. Presented at WikiSym, 7th International Symposium on Wikis & Open Collaboration, Mountain View, California, October 2011.
- Ford, H. (2009) Open Culture. In Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) 2009.
- Ford, H. (2011) The Spaces Between: Towards Private Spaces for Peer Learning. Masters Thesis, UC Berkeley School of Information.
Ford, H. (forthcoming) 'Imagine a world...' Hegemony in the age of peer production. DPhil Thesis, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.
Recorded: 15 January 2016 Duration: 00:11:28
Presentation on Heather Ford's Wikipedia research, on the occasion of Wikipedia's 15th Birthday.
Recorded: 17 January 2013 Duration: 00:08:12
Heather Ford presents at the Microsoft Research 2013 Social Computing Symposium in the panel 'Off the Radar: Stories, Insight, Action!'.
Recorded: 13 July 2012 Duration: 01:28:26
Heather Ford presents at Wikimania 2012 (Washington, DC) in the panel 'Wikipedia in the Twitter Age' (starts 00:38:00).
10 August 2014 BBC World Service
Heather Ford, OII DPhil student and researcher into how Wikipedia writes about breaking news, is interviewed in advance of her talk at the Wikimedia conference. (18:45 - 22:50 on the clock, available until 17 August)
17 April 2013 New Scientist
In an in-depth analysis of the challenges facing Wikipedia in expanding participation beyond the English speaking world, Mark Graham’s research on Wikipedia is referenced and DPhil student Heather Ford is quoted.
The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group on 5 Nov 2015 11:50AM
If you Google the city ‘Jerusalem’ today, you will most likely see something like the screenshot above. In addition to Google’s organic search results presented as a list of 112 million possible sites that may meet my information seeking needs,… [...]
The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group on 14 Aug 2014 09:51AM
Continuing with our series of blog posts exposing the workings behind a multidisciplinary big data project, we talk this week about the process of moving between small data and big data analyses. Last week, we did a group deep dive into our data.… [...]
The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group on 12 Aug 2014 16:44PM
Heather Ford gave this talk at Wikimania in London on Sunday warning Wikipedians about the fact that they are by no means a completely ‘neutral’ resource and that they suffer from a ‘homegrown’ bias that results from different points of [...]
Heather Ford on 11 Aug 2014 15:32PM
I gave this talk at Wikimania in London yesterday. In the first years of Wikipedia’s existence, many of us said that, as an example of citizen journalism and journalism by the people, Wikipedia would be able to avoid the gatekeeping problems faced by [...]
Heather Ford on 6 Aug 2014 18:44PM
This article first appeared in Big Data and Society journal published by Sage and is licensed by the author under a Creative Commons Attribution license. [PDF] Abstract In the past three years, Heather Ford—an ethnographer and now a PhD student—has worked [...]
The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group on 30 Jul 2014 12:11PM
In this series of blog posts, we are documenting the process by which a group of computer and social scientists are working together on a project to understand the geography of Wikipedia citations. Our aim is not only to better understand how far [...]
The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group on 22 Jul 2014 16:58PM
In this series of blog posts, Heather Ford documents the process by which a group of computer and social scientists are working together in a project to understand the geography of Wikipedia citations. Their aim is not only to better… Continue [...]
Heather Ford on 14 Jul 2014 15:10PM
First posted at the site for the new project, Connectivity, Inclusivity and Inequality that I’m involved with. OII research fellow, Mark Graham and DPhil student, Heather Ford (both part of the CII group) are working with a group of computer [...]
The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group on 14 Jul 2014 10:26AM
OII research fellow, Mark Graham and DPhil student, Heather Ford (both part of the CII group) are working with a group of computer scientists including Brent Hecht, Dave Musicant and Shilad Sen to understand how far Wikipedia has come to… Continue [...]
Policy and Internet Blog on 19 Nov 2013 09:00AM
Automated verification practices are becoming an important feature of crowdsourced content environments as a way of coping with the deluge of data. Heather Ford (OII) explains that while these processes can scale up contributions, it is important to [...]
Heather Ford on 21 Oct 2013 17:27PM
This is a (very) short paper that I will be presenting at Internet Research in Denver this week. I want to write something longer about the story because I feel like it represents in many ways what I see as emblematic of so many of us who lived through [...]
Heather Ford on 3 Mar 2013 13:41PM
First published on ethnographymatters.net. Last month on Ethnography Matters, we started a monthly thematic focus where each of the EM contributing editors would elicit posts about a particular theme. I kicked us off with the theme entitled ‘The [...]
Heather Ford on 1 Nov 2012 10:37AM
It was the end of the final day of our workshop on the outskirts of Cairo and we were all feeling that curious mixture of inspiration, energy and exhaustion that follows those meetings where a world of ideas and people and things are thrown together in a [...]
Heather Ford on 19 Oct 2012 07:37AM
After four months of travel to visit friends in amazing places and visiting some wild places on my own, I have at last settled down in Oxford for my next adventure: three or four years doing my DPhil here at Oxford University. Sometimes I have to pinch [...]