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Friday, October 27, 2006

Out and About: Jimmy Wales' Keynote Address

At the 2006 Training Conference and Exposition, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia gave an address about the future of open source content sites like Wikipedia ( Wikipedia “is an encyclopedia written collaboratively by many of its readers. Lots of people are constantly improving Wikipedia, making thousands of changes an hour, all of which are recorded on article histories and recent changes. Inappropriate changes are usually removed quickly" by one of the thousands of daily visitors to the site.

The wikipedia update and addition process works as follow; someone will notice an inaccuracy in an entry and then make the change immediately. No need to notify an editor, wait for verification or even check sources. Because entries are tracked and changes recorded, people tend to make accurate changes and corrections. Even if an entry is not correct, because of the volume of visitors and ease in changing the information, inaccuracies are quickly addresses and remedied.

Wikipedia is basically a collective encyclopedia written by volunteers with over 3.5 million articles in 200 languages. Anyone who visits the site can become an author or an editor—changing or adding entries. Yet, there is really only a core number of about 650 volunteers who do the heavy lifting...most of the entries and much of the base information. Then a far larger group contributes small items or minor updates to the bulk information entered by the "hard core" volunteers.

Jimmy discussed the growth of Wikipedia and how he is committed to the concept of open sources and the "wisdom of the masses." He spoke of his goal to get more languages over the 100,000 article mark and his work to make other types of wiki's accessible to all the people of the world.

He also spoke of the decision of the organization to not censor its content for any country and how that decision compared to the Google decision to allow censoring.

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