CITS Faculty Lecture Series (FLS) Event: Andrew Lih

Event Date: 

Monday, February 22, 2010 - 12:00pm

Event Location: 

  • HSSB 6020

Can Wikipedia Survive Popular Success and Community Decline?

Wikipedia is among top five most visited web sites in the world, with the project achieving a level of notability matched only by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

However, editing activity in the encyclopedia "anyone can edit" has steadily fallen since early 2007. What do past online collaborative projects, such as the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), tell us about the ability to sustain a lasting content creation community? With research from the Palo Alto Research Center, Wikipedians and academics, Lih will explain the evolution of Wikipedia, it's global impact, and possible scenarios for Wikipedia's future.

Andrew Lih is the author of The Wikipedia Revolution and visiting professor journalism and director of new media at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

He is a new media researcher, consultant and technology author. After a decade in academia as a professor of journalism and media studies, he has spent two years researching and writing the book The Wikipedia Revolution: How a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia, (Hyperion 2009) the only nonfiction narrative account about the online community that has created one of the most influential Web sites in the world.

After founding one of the first dot-com companies in New York in 1994, from 1995 to 2000, he created the new media program at the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism where he served as adjunct professor and director of technology for their Center for New Media. During that time, he taught new media journalists and advised New York media companies on content strategy and Web site design. He also developed the first guidelines for the Pulitzer Prizes to accept digital multimedia submissions, starting in 1999.

In 2000, he was a principal investigator at the Interactive Design Lab at Columbia, a collaboration between the journalism school and the School of the Arts to investigate interactive design issues for multimedia content. During its three year mandate, the IDL analyzed the process of multimedia design across industries such as advertising, news, documentary and film.

In his previous life as an engineer, from 1990 to 1993 he worked for the renowned AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, USA, designing user interfaces and software systems for telecommunications network monitoring. Afterwards, he helped formed Mediabridge Infosystems, which created the first online city guide for the Big Apple and performed online strategy and development for media firms in New York.

In 2003, he gave his research an international focus, joining the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre as assistant professor and director of technology. He taught both undergraduate and graduate classes in the use of multimedia and online technologies for participatory journalism.

His research in the social and technical dynamics of collaborative communities have made him a recognized expert on the Wikipedia project, one of the largest collaborative reference works on the Internet. He is an administrator on the English edition, and has served on the program committee and as proceedings editor for the annual Wikimania conferences. To continually cover the online community, he hosts the Wikipedia Weekly roundtable audio podcast that discusses issues related to Wikipedia and the online industry.

His regional interests include the development of information communication technologies (ICT) in Asia and their impact on peer-produced journalism. Since taking up residence in China in 2006, he has also been a sought after expert on China’s Internet development, technology and its censorship system, also known as the Great Firewall of China (GFW).

With a front row seat to observe China’s rapid development, he has also worn the hat of foreign multimedia correspondent by filing video news stories for the Wall Street Journal on topics including the 2008 Summer Olympics, Sichuan earthquake disaster relief and local economic development.

Lih’s work and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, The Standard (HK), BBC, National Public Radio (US), MSNBC and CNN International, among others. He was recognized as a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation in 2000 and by the Asia Society in 2007.