Wikipedia’s rapid documentation of current events has profoundly shaped its identity and success over its more than 20-year history. From the 9/11 attacks through the COVID-19 pandemic, Wikipedia editors have repeatedly demonstrated their capacity to create detailed and timely articles with neither the formal organizations found in newsrooms nor the misinformation found in contemporary social media feeds. Drawing on over a decade of decade of experience researching, I discuss some of the mechanisms underpinning Wikipedia’s breaking news collaborations and their implications for governing resilient socio-technical systems in the face of information campaigns, platform decay, and federated architectures.
Brian Keegan, Ph.D. is a computational social scientist and assistant professor at the University of Colorado’s Department of Information Science. As a computational social scientist, I use digital traces of social behavior to explore how disruptions illuminate the emergence, stabilization, and dissolution of social structures like communication, collaboration, and collective memory. The primary empirical settings for this research have been online social platforms like Wikipedia, Reddit, and Twitter that provide rich and open data about social behavior during disruptive events involving breaking news, controversies, and social movements.