When major news breaks in our hyper-connected society, we increasingly turn to an encyclopedia for the latest information. Wikipedia’s coverage of breaking news events attracts unique levels of attention; the articles with the most page views, edits, and contributors in any given month since 2003 are related to current events. Extant scholarship has made little effort to understand how online communities like Wikipedia are able to engage in high-tempo knowledge collaboration. Wikipedians editing these topics collaborate under conditions unlike those found on the vast majority of other articles: volatile information, highly-coupled work from dozens of simultaneous editors, and synthesizing new knowledge. This project analyzes how a large online community with diverse capacities for knowledge work is able to temporarily self-organize and rely on improvised responses, regenerated organizational forms, and knowledge encoded into artifacts to support high-tempo knowledge work before disassembling. These exchanges of knowledge and skill are occasions to diverse members of the community to come together and also supports the exchange of knowledge and skills to improve the collaborative capacity of the community. This project examines the historical and institutional contexts for encyclopedias incorporating new knowledge through history, characterizes the differences in the collaboration structures of articles about breaking and non-breaking articles, analyzes structural patterns in the sequences of edits made by editors, and develops a multi-level statistical model to understand the influence of users and artifacts on the self-organization fo these collaborations. Socio-technical systems like Wikipedia not only support novel forms of high tempo, distributed, and temporary organization, but they provide a roadmap for extending these successful collaboration processes to vital social needs like disaster response, journalism, and political reform.

Extended summary.

Complete dissertation.

2 thoughts on “Dissertation”

  1. I am a high school student in the UAE and was directed here by my ethics teacher, Mr. Tucker Barrows as a means of research for my project on “Human Rights Abuse through Gold Farming (MMORPG) in China”

    I would like to thank you for the amazing resource that this website/ blog has been. It is quite an interesting field of study.

    Best of Luck on a sucessful dissertation.

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