Zack McCune ’06 If you attended Portsmouth Abbey, you probably know
Wikipedia as the forbidden citation on your analytical essays.
What you might not know is that Wikipedia is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit parent company concerned with making knowledge freely available to the public worldwide.
That is where Zack McCune ’06 comes in.
McCune at Ocean Beach, San Francisco
Currently, Zack works as the lead for Global Audiences
culture and nations’ unique needs when it comes to his
at Wikimedia. “In short,” says Zack, “I work to expand
job. Zack is adamant, saying that “every language should
the global reach of free knowledge.” According to the
have its own Wikipedia.” Neither Zack nor Wikimedia is
Wikimedia Foundations website, this is accomplished
interested in monopolizing or extorting free knowledge.
through research, project measurement, and community
Rather, “I focus on the regions where we are not that well
consultation. In the day-to-day, this means that Zack
known,” says Zack, and he has the airline miles to prove
structures surveys and works with a diverse range of
it. His position at Wikimedia has allowed him to travel
communities to develop a sense of Wikipedia that best
to India, Mexico, Nigeria, and many more corners of our
suits their individualized needs and cultures.
planet. Zack elaborates on the reason for these excursions,
But who hasn’t heard of Wikipedia? It is certainly the first place I look when an actor’s name has escaped me, or when I simply must know what Tom Brady ate for breakfast in high school. It turns out that this is an exclusively western
restating the importance of “interpreting what matters most for their communities and cultures.” Both Zack and Wikimedia envision a world in which knowledge is both accessible and relevant for users worldwide.
frame of mind. Wikipedia, which is now 16 years old, is
In talking to Zack, I begin to see how passionate he is
asking for the car keys, and Zack is happy to hand them
about his work. But how did he end up in this seemingly
over. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Zack McCune and
ambiguous role, jetting around the globe bearing the
Wikimedia, this online encyclopedic website is expanding
gift of free knowledge like Santa’s more studious older
across the globe, to regions unfamiliar with the interactive
brother? In following his trajectory, it becomes clear
resource. He discussed this trend, noting that “only 23
that, really, this is less Zack’s job and more his vocation.
percent of Nigeria has heard of Wikipedia, and less than
After graduating from Portsmouth Abbey in 2006, Zack
ten percent use Wikipedia like Americans.” Zack stresses
attended Brown University where he studied modern
the importance of customizing Wikipedia to best suit each
culture and media. This course of study was supplemented
P ORTSM O U T H A BB E Y S C HO OL