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

Supervisors at the OII

Current projects

  • OxDEG: The Oxford Digital Ethnography Group

    Participants: Professor Eric T. Meyer, Dr Heather Ford, John McManus, Shireen Walton, Dr William Kelly

    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.

  • Wikipedia’s Networks and Geographies: Representation and Power in Peer-Produced Content

    Participants: Dr Han-Teng Liao, Dr Bernie Hogan, Professor Mark Graham, Dr Scott A. Hale, Dr Heather Ford

    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.

Past projects

  • 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.