"Disrupting Wikipedia: The Case Study of Wikipedia Zero in Angola"

Submitted by Media@McGill on


Sophie Toupin


From May 30th to June 2nd, 2017,  I travelled to Toronto to participate in the 2017 annual meeting of the Canadian Communication Association held at Ryerson University.  The conference brought together Canadian communication scholars from across Canada, but mostly from Quebec and Ontario. I presented a paper entitled: Disrupting Wikipedia: The Case Study of Wikipedia Zero in Angola, which is derived from a research project I completed during one of my graduate seminars at McGill. My paper examined the emerging and ephemeral practice of a few tech savvy Angolans who have been using Wikipedia zero, an initiative that gives free but limited access to Wikipedia on mobile phones in the global south, as a peer-to-peer networking platform. My paper interrogates the extent to which Wikipedia and Facebook with their “zero projects” are becoming new developmental actors in providing "free" Internet service through local and national communication carriers. It demonstrates that this “free” zero technology and the media ecology that surrounds it are increasingly resembling a walled-off garden and the extent to which Wikipedia and Facebook zero’s associated developmental discourse reinforce its designer’s intentions for the technology.

The discussions surrounding my paper and its larger topic gave me some good feedback to improve the paper. I am hoping to rework this paper and ultimately submit it to a peer reviewed journal. I am grateful to Media@McGill for giving me the opportunity to attend the CCA which gave me the possibility to network with a number of professors, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students. These are invaluable spaces to meet and discuss with other researchers.