In the media
Chelsea Manning, Box-office predictors, and 'Storming Wikipedia'
Wikipedia's gender identity MOS section and its effect on Chelsea Manning was both praised and emulated in the media this week. The controversy over moving the article from her former name, Bradley Manning, came in the wake of the soldier's announcement of her gender identity after her trial had concluded. The acrimonious debate and move request at Talk:Chelsea Manning was covered. Slate praised Wikipedia's quick shift from the outdated male pronouns and name to her current pronouns and name. The story was also covered by El Comercio, the New Statesman, and TruthDig.
Wikipedia as box-office bellwether
On 21 August 2013, the open access journal PLoS One published the article "Early Prediction of Movie Box Office Success Based on Wikipedia Activity Big Data". The authors analyzed data about 312 movies that were released in the United States in 2010. They limited their sample to movies listed in Category:2009 films and Category:2010 films and used Box Office Mojo for information on the box office success of the films. They concluded that, even one month before a movie is released domestically, Wikipedia editing activity could accurately predict its success.
The paper was covered in myriad news outlets, including The Australian, The Descrier, Gizmodo, The International Business Times, Livescience, Motherboard, the Oxford Mail, Discover Magazine's D-brief, and LifeHacker Australia. Similar research had been published in 2012, and was covered when Forbes expressed concern that the findings could encourage filmmakers to engage in astroturfing and edit articles for their movies in hopes of raising expectations.
Coverage of the distributed open collaborative course called "Storming Wikipedia" continued this week. Influenced by Jimmy Wales' speech at Wikimania 2013, where he showed that 87 percent of contributors to Wikipedia are men, the effort aims to increase women's participation and coverage on Wikipedia by engaging a network of feminist philosophy and women's studies classes. It is run by FemTechNet, which describes itself on its FAQ page as "an activated network of scholars, artists, and students who work on, with, and at the borders of technology".
Researchers have found that Wikipedia's coverage of feminism and issues faced by women is abysmal and that there is a gender gap in both biographies and contributors. The course, run by FemTechNet, will run at 15 institutions and is designed to bridge the gender gap in several ways, including recruiting women to contribute, writing articles about women, and correcting systemic bias by writing about feminist viewpoints and scholarship. The story broke into major news outlets this week, receiving favorable attention for its goals. It was covered by the CBC, Bustle, the Huffington Post, Truthdig, Jezebel, MediaBistro, and Mother Jones.
Following from FemTechNet's idea, OCAD University introduced a new course for this fall called Dialogues on Feminism and Technology, as reported by the CBC. Described as "a first-of-its-kind collaborative digital course for credit in 16 universities all over the world", students will "collaboratively write feminist thinking" into Wikipedia, according to organizers.