Wikipedia, Wikia and the Future of Free Culture

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipdia talks about how Wikipedia aims to give people access to the sum of human knowledge.

He describes how Wikipedia is very popular across the globe. Hundreds of thousands of articles in numbers of languages.

He notes how Wikipedia is a charitable organization with only 12 employees. Yet, look at the affect they have on the world.

Spent $1,000,000 in 2006 – supported by small donations from people around the world. (Also gets donations of caching servers around the world.)

Wales goes on to define, what he means by free access to the sum of human knowledge. “Free as in speech, not as in beer.”

The Wikipedia’s license allows you the:
Freedom to copy
Freedom to modify
Freedom to redistribute
Freedom to redistribute modified versions

He goes on to further refine his term the sum of all human knowledge. He describes Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, not a data dump. This is a Global Movement to gather content in every single language.

The folks from Wikipedia ask people to build their own wikipedia in their own language. They have a “Wikipedia academy” which offers seminars on how to edit wikipedia. (note: check http://icommons.org)

He notes, it takes 5 to 10 regular users in a community to sustain regular posting in a paricular language / about a particular subject.

For instance, he tells the story of the “Father of Swahili”. Every night he wrote articles for Wikipedia. This person then reached out to Swahili language bloggers. Then the 5 to 10 contributors gathered together and started helping each other.

Wales goes on to describe Wikia as a completely separate venture. Wikia is like every other kind of book, only it is writing that people build as an online community.

Goal of Wikia is for profit, but it still is freely distributed.

He offers an explanation about why this all is happening… The internet is all about consumer media.

He cites the example of the “Muppet Wiki” as a resource for community created long tail content.

He cites bloggers as performing the function of “Armchair Analysis” and says that “a good blog is equal to the editorial section of the New York Times.”

He points out that Wikipedia aims to embrace neutrality as a core value that Wikipedia should not take a stand on any controversial issue and that it should describe the fight rather than taking a stance.

The nature of wikis is such that there is the potential for content to be destroyed. But points out that writing that survives is writing that people can mutually agree is an accurate description.

In a moment of self-assessment, he notes that Wiki News reporting is not too good. He notes that “News requires infrastrucutre, ability to be patient and wait for news to happen.” Although, one potential exception that he sees as fertile ground for exploration would be for crowdourced sports reporting.

He points out the following lessons for public broadcasters:

– a lot of this is made possible by the creative commons licensing framework

– he asks us to think about how new content could be created from public broadcasting content. To think about community reuse.

- he asks us to think about how we can you release content in a way where we can get people interested in what we are doing. For example: he talks about how he worked to persuade art museums to make high quality photograph available for use on wikipedia – and how that encourages people to go to the museum.

The next section of the presentation is on Wikia and the future of search

(Insert link to Wikia Labs)
Note: this is a political statement about Open Source, about Open Access.

Here, Wales is offering people all t necessary software to set up a Free Search Engine – would this be useful for Jake Shapiro’s Pirate Media Bay initiative? Would this be useful for PBCore?

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