Jimmy Wales – Encyclopedia? Is that something like Wikipedia?

21. July 2015 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Being asked on what the Encyclopedia might be, young people’s answer isusually: “Isn’t that something like Wikipedia?” Are the good times long gone? The times when we had heavy tomes to look up words and meanings? I guess so. Today, knowledge is always just a click away. There is virtually no search that Wikipedia would not have an answer for. In many languages, too.

Jimmy Wales’ credo: knowledge for free for everybody

The idea for Wikipedia was born in the year 2000. At the time, he was 34 years old and was a successful trader at the Chicago stock exchange before. But very wrong to think that he invented Wikipedia for the money. He does not belong to those who want to lead a life of a relaxed millionaire. People say that he could read with only four years of age and the Encyclopedia was one of his favorite books. He loves knowledge, not wealth. His decision not to charge neither the writers nor the readers was a very conscious one. Knowledge should be available for everybody, says Jimmy Wales. That is his vision and he has turned it into real. Currently, he negotiates with Kazakhstan to become a part of Wikipedia. Asked how he earns his living he answers that he tours the world to talk about Wikipedia and his mission. It is his dream job, he says.

Waray Waray –content in any language

German follows English and Swedish on the third position in the top ten languages to be found in Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales muses that the long period of darkness might be a reason for the Nordic Countries to write so much in Wikipedia. Well. Another funny observation: “Waray Waray”, a language spoken in parts of Indonesia, holds up on sixth place. Ambassador for openness and transparency Jimmy Wales hopes that the decision to offer content for free functions as a motivator for those who sacrifice free time to feed Wikipedia with content. Maybe they would see themselves as part of something bigger. In fact, they would make the world a better place by producing content available for everybody.

In an interview with the German newspaper “Die Welt” he stated: “Knowlegde is a tool to measure politicians for what they do. And if people feel betrayed by them, they can organize themselves and lead to change, like we saw during the Arab Spring. The challenge is that there is still a lack in building the knowledge to build new institutions. And why shouldn’t the tools that helped to tear down the old system not also help to build new things? Of course, this is a process and will not happen over night.”

Jimmy Wales, a character

He is an idealist, a self-proclaimed atheist and a professed objectivist meaning that he emphasizes reason, individualism and capitalism. His biography is published nicely on Wikipedia, of course: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wales

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Jimmy Wales

Founder Wikipedia & Internet Entrepreneur