Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: Ryan Merkley on Why Wikipedia Works

Jen Patja, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Ryan Merkley
Thursday, June 4, 2020, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With
Brookings

In this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ryan Merkley, the chief of staff to the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. We’ve spent a lot of time on this podcast discussing how social media platforms have handled issues of disinformation and misinformation. But what about Wikipedia? It’s a massive online encyclopedia written and edited entirely by volunteers—so, not a platform, but still an online service grappling with a wave of untruths in an uncertain time. Ryan, Evelyn and Quinta talked about Wikipedia’s unique structure, how the site has managed to become a reliable resource on an often untrustworthy internet, and how readers, writers and editors of Wikipedia are navigating the need for information amidst both the pandemic and ongoing protests over police abuse of Black Americans.



Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Evelyn Douek is an Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School on the topic of private and public regulation of online speech. Prior to attending HLS, Evelyn was an Associate (clerk) to the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel of the High Court of Australia. She received her LL.B. from UNSW Sydney, where she was Executive Editor of the UNSW Law Journal.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Ryan Merkley is Managing Director of Aspen Digital, a program of the Aspen Institute focused on technology, media, and society. He previously served five years as Chief Executive Officer at Creative Commons, was Chief of Staff at the Wikimedia Foundation, and was Chief Operating Officer of the Mozilla Foundation. He is an affiliate of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and the Chair of the Flickr Foundation.

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