Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pre-blog: The life of a traveling technologist

So, I didn't have much time this week and I'm doing this Iron Blogging thing.  If you got here looking for a cool discussion of the life of a traveling technologist, I regret to inform you that this will only be a meta-discussion.  Once I've completed the proper discussion, I'll put the link right below this paragraph.


So my life is pretty weird in a lot of ways.  I travel a lot.  I generally don't see my teammates at the Wikimedia Foundation for months at a time.  Worse, I have a group of friends who are extremely geographically distributed that my geographically local friends don't know about.  We only see each other during conferences and other academic events.  

Another sort of interesting aspect of my professional life is that I straddle the line between industry and academia.  When it comes to the meat of knowledge & knowledge production, there's no conflict.  But the timescales are amazingly different.  

But through dealing with this, I've worked out some hacks.  Some have to do with communication channels and making it feel like you are present even when you are not in the office.  Others are my folding bike and the amazing experience I get visiting European cities.  

So, I conclude with a promise of future bloggings with photos and insights.  I just don't have the time right now!

Some of my geographically distributed social network who are

unknown to my local friends. 

My cardboard cutout at the WMF office.
My folding bike -- waiting for my flight.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

VisualEditor and barriers to entry in Wikipedia

In this blog entry, I'm going to briefly cover a presentation that I gave recently as part of the Wikimedia Research Showcase.

The Newcomer Gauntlet. A theoretical diagram of barriers to entry in 
Wikipedia are depicted with the hypothesized effect of VisualEditor's
 reduction in technical literacy barrier highlighted in green. 

TL;DR: We ran an experiment where we gave a WYSIWYG editor to newly registered editors in Wikipedia and monitored the effect it had on their productivity.  We found that it didn't affect productivity either way.  I think that this is because the barriers to entry in Wikipedia primarily consist of social/motivational issues, so reducing the technical literacy barriers that VE targets did not have a meaningful effect.

The talk is embedded below.  My talk is first.  There's a second talk by some students looking at building a knowledge graph with Wikipedia and some google tech too.