Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales: What Wikipedia is really about – #istrategy (1 of 6)


On October 26, I attended the IStrategy conference which took place in Amsterdam. I was there to deliver a keynote on social media are ROI/ROE, but I must confess I also attended the conference in order to listen to Jimmy Wales who gave us an overview of his celebrated online encyclopaedia: Wikipedia. I was there in the front row, with my notebook in my lap. Here is the account of Jimmy Wales’s most impressive presentation, a good means of taking a bit of hindsight and LAN learning to know better a collaborative website which everyone uses but few have in-depth knowledge about.
 
to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!
[photo by YAG: Jimmy Wales on stage at iStrategy in Amsterdam on October 26]
who is using Wikipedia?
Was Jimmy Wales introductory question to the audience and not surprisingly, everyone raised their hands. “who has edited Wikipedia?” Was question number two and a couple of dozen delegates raised their hands this time, which shows that the audience was really upmarket. It also demonstrates a known fact, i.e. that only a fraction of users are content producers, and that most of them are content with the ability to look at others users’ entries.
no free beer
Wikipedia is “based on the concept of free software” Jimmy Wales went on. But free, in that instance, doesn’t mean that it’s free in “the free beer sense of the term” he added. What it really means, he explained, is that “everything that goes into Wikipedia can be reused and redistributed, repurposed for all kinds of things, namely the translation into a number of languages”.
what Wikipedia is … and isn’t about
Wikipedia is meant to be “the sum of all human knowledge”. A somewhat bombastic boast I would say, for there are instances in which, the online encyclopaedia is delivering false information; this should not be forgotten, even though – like me – one really dotes on the project, the crosschecking of information is a necessary and unavoidable process.
Regardless, what Jimmy Wales was hinting at was that the purpose of the online collaborative project is to collect information on Hamlet for instance, not to be a repository of everything regarding Hamlet, let alone to “keep a copy of Hamlet” he said. It’s about describing and debating Hamlet… and other subjects.
in comes Wikia
At the end of his introduction, Jimmy announced that the Wikimedia foundation (i.e. the non-profit organisation he is heading) has launched a new project which caters for those wanting to debate Hamlet, and other subject, on and on and on. This new project is called Wikia. But before we delve into this new venture, I remember that Jimmy Wales gave us an overview of Wikipedia and how it’s being used worldwide; this will be the subject of a few other posts on this blog… Stay tuned!

Yann Gourvennec
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