Dr Heather Ford

 Dr Heather Ford

Heather Ford is a DPhil alumna who studies how Wikipedians write history as it happens. Her research covers online collaboration, conflict, historiography, alternative media, the Arab Spring and intellectual property rights.


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 collectionvisualization 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.

Research interests

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 Alumna, November 2015 -
  • DPhil Student, October 2012 - October 2015


Current projects

Past projects




  • 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.

Conference papers

  • 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. (forthcoming) 'Imagine a world...' Hegemony in the age of peer production. DPhil Thesis, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.




  • Wikimania interview

    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)

  • Free for all? Lifting the lid on a Wikipedia crisis

    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.