Research interests: sociology of knowledge, digital/new media, political communication, science and technology studies, values in design
Dr Heather Ford has worked as a researcher, activist, journalist, educator and strategist in the fields of online collaboration, intellectual property reform, information privacy and open source software in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. She is currently a University of Leeds Academic Fellow in Digital Methods based at the School of Media and Communication. Before coming to Leeds, Ford was a DPhil student at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University where she wrote her DPhil (PhD) thesis on the changing nature of authority and power in online communities using Wikipedia as a case.
In 2011, she graduated from the UC Berkeley iSchool Masters of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program and then joined Ushahidi, the Kenyan-based non-profit technology company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping as an ethnographer studying how Wikipedia and Ushahidi communities work together to verify information collected from social media sources.
Ford is a former Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board member and the former Executive Director of iCommons – an international organisation started by Creative Commons to connect the open education, access to knowledge, free software, open access publishing and free culture communities around the world. She was a co-founder of Creative Commons South Africa and of the South African non-profit, The African Commons Project and worked as an activist and program manager in Johannesburg and London for the Association for Progressive Communications in the time leading up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
At night she dreams about writing books and finding time to draw.