Former Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation
Sue Gardner is the former Director of and now special advisor to Wikipedia. She's also the only Canadian to make it onto Forbes' The World's 100 Most Powerful Women list. At Wikipedia, Gardner introduced major initiatives focused on organizational maturity, long-term sustainability, and increased participation, reach, and quality of the Foundation's free-knowledge projects. She was formerly head of CBC.CA, the internet platform for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Canada's radio, TV, and new media public broadcaster and the nation's largest journalistic organization. Under her leadership, CBC.CA experienced a historic audience surge and launched many new major multimedia technologies, including podcasting, breaking news alerts, live event blogging, and many forms of user interaction.
Since beginning her career in 1990 at the now-classic radio program As It Happens, Gardner has worked in all forms of media to create high-quality, award-winning programming. As a journalist, she specialized in pop culture, social issues and media analysis, covering stories such as manipulation of the news media during the first Gulf War, the rise of gated communities in California, the racial implications of the return of the death penalty to New York, changing feminist attitudes towards pornography, the dawn of interactive media, and the rise and fall of rave culture in the UK.
Gardner is a member of the Online News Association, the Society for News Design, Women in Film and Television, the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian Women In Communications.
The Future of the Internet
The internet used to be a Wild West, in which corporations, well-funded start-ups, and amateurs competed for user attention, with the amateurs often winning. The net gave ordinary people access to the means of production—a billion blogs, self-hosted sites, and proto-social networking sites were born! That was great, Sue Gardner contends, because the internet should be like a city, with shoe stores and banks and restaurants, but also with parks and libraries and schools. Today, though, the internet has matured. It is increasingly corporatized and commercialized, and ordinary people's open participation has declined. We participate in narrower, simpler ways than we used to, such as "liking" something on Facebook, or republishing other people's posts on Tumblr. In this state-of-the-union talk, delivered at a crucial moment, Sue Gardner looks to the future of the net, and examines the implications for democracy, journalism, education, free speech, creativity, openness—and much more. If we want an Internet that allows for healthy public spaces, she says, we are going to need to course-correct, including figuring out ways to pay for what we want. Otherwise, we risk ordinary people being flipped from creators into consumers, exactly like what happened with television 50 years ago. Bringing extraordinary insight to the net's growth so far, Gardner paints a realistic (and hopeful) picture of the ways we can still positively shape the greatest communications phenomenon we've ever known.
What We Can Learn from Wikipedia: The New Workplace
What can organizations and workplaces learn from the success of one of the world's most invaluable web communities? The fundamental premise of Wikipedia is that if you create a space where people are encouraged to share and help each other, they will do it. In the decade-plus since Wikipedia's launch, that's been proven to be true. In this talk, Sue Gardner looks at how the site's model has many lessons that can be applied to the workplace, to increase collaboration and creativity. We're moving from top-down, carefully controlled environments into more transparent organizations in which decentralized work groups have a high degree of autonomy, Gardner reminds us, and Wikipedia was a forerunner in this kind of participatory engagement.
The Future of Leadership
Work is changing, and Silicon Valley cultures are at the forefront. We're moving from formal, command-and-control, bureaucratic organizations into workplaces that
are agile, often decentralized, and in which teams have a high degree of autonomy and authority. In those contexts, Sue Gardner argues, leadership is changing too. Increasingly, in order to be effective, leaders are going to need to be flexible and collaborative, highly transparent, and non-authoritarian. Drawing on her years heading up the Wikimedia foundation—a period of substantial and much-heralded organizational growth—Gardner takes a look at the new leadership models that have emerged, and how they apply to your own company.
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