GLAM-WIKI 2015/Proposals/Effective Scaling for GLAM Projects: Considering Digital Labor and Wikipedia

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After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the GLAM-WIKI 2015 programme submission, we hope to still see you at GLAM-WIKI this April.

Submission no. GW15.1044
Title of the submission
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Dorothy Howard
Country of origin
Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Metropolitan New York Library Council, Metropolitan New York Library Council, Wikimedia New York City.
E-mail address
User:OR drohowa
Personal homepage or blog
Twitter username
Facebook url

This presentation is meant to serve as an overview of the conversations and literature on the topic of Digital Labor and how it has been applied to open source communities, and how it might also be applied to the Wikipedia community in an intersectionalist approach. The goal of this presentation is to bring together thoughts and opinions on if a Wikipedia union is needed to help represent the Wikipedia volunteer community directly to the foundation, and help protect the rights of Wikipedians.

Detailed proposal

These conversations will touch on: the history of volunteer ethics are applied to the open source community, how the gendered and racial aspects of leisure inequality afford some people more time to be volunteers; what is "information activism" and is Wikipedia an "activist project", what standard guarantees are available to online volunteers? The presentation will also explore some various strategies of thinking about Wikipedia's peer-production economy as a space of value-creation, and asking the question of whether the work of Wikipedians should be conceived of as labor, and what implications such thinking might have.

Economic theories of how motivation changes when payment is introduce into knowledge production communities that were previously unpaid, and how the introduction of money changes behavior and contribution patterns will be reviewed. As will the theories of scholars; Tziana Terranova, Trebor Scholz, Jaron Lanier, Yochai Benkler, Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, Cory Doctorow and others will be discussed, as well as both familiar and far fetched ideas about digital labor on the web as a growing economic reality, and proposed possible solutions to address the pitfalls that the information economy creates.


  • Collaboration
Length of presentation/talk
1 hour
Target audience
Intermediate and advanced level Wikipedians preferred. It would be good to have this be a 'community' discussion.
Expected outcomes
Learn the terms of 'digital labor' and resources/services should be
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