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• People - Jimmy Wales


Video Features Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales
2001 - Wikipedia officially launched itself on January 15th.

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People Section

Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales

01h Photos: Wikipedia's: Jimmy Wales; Map: Europe, Africa, Asia. .


Feature Story Person of the Month. About Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia May 4, 2005.
 Jimmy Wales got lucky when he hired Larry Sanger, and Ben Kovitz. The combination brought Wikipedia to life in 2005. By January 2006 -- Wikipedia officially launched itself on January 15th, 2001. / CLICK FOR MORE TIMELINE
0918wPhotopCovWiki300w.jpgCrispin Sartwell of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania says Wikipedia is the best Encyclopedias -- whether paper (Britannica, for example) or software (Encarta) -- are intended to be representations of the scope of human knowledge at the moment of their publication. This idea, of course, has a long history. But the most interesting thing about it may be its future, as represented by the magnificent, nonprofit Wikipedia.
• •
"Wiki" is the Hawaiian word for quick, and it refers to a website that can be updated easily by anyone from any Web browser. The first wiki armature was developed in 1995, and Wikipedia -- the brainchild of one Jimmy Wales -- was founded in 2001. Under Wales' brilliant conception, anyone can go into Wikipedia (wikipedia.org) and create a new article or edit an old one: It is entirely accessible and entirely alterable.
• •
This is anarchy, of course, and completely antithetical to the encyclopedic tradition, which has emphasized a kind of solemn definitiveness and authority. Britannica and Encarta, for instance, not only employ experts to write their articles but subject everything they publish to a rigorous review process. At Wikipedia, you (or any old maniac) can march right onto the "nuclear fusion" page and add your thoughts.
But as Wikipedia says about itself, the point is not that it's hard to make mistakes but that it's easy to correct them. Because thousands of people -- ordinary, unpaid, outside participants -- monitor and edit Wikipedia, errors and vandalism are often corrected in seconds. One feature of the site is a list of recently updated pages, so that one can keep track of changes. One can even revert to a previous version of an article if mistaken or malevolent parties have messed it up.
• •
The result is not perfect. In one brief instance, a character from "Star Wars" was labeled Benedict XVI. But such is the exception, not the rule, and usually quickly rectified. Overall, the encyclopedia gets ever larger and ever more accurate. The English version has grown to more than half a million entries, and in checking the "recent changes" section I once found a dozen or more revisions every minute. The site also provides contexts in which changes can be proposed and discussed among writers.
• •
So is it to be trusted? Does it have the credibility of Britannica? Well, I have monitored over a decent period a number of entries on matters about which I know something and have found them almost invariably accurate. And I have watched some of them grow, becoming ever more elaborate and interlinked.
• •
In fact, open architecture is in some sense the only possible way to do what an encyclopedia purports to do: represent the state of human knowledge in real time. Such a project is by its nature so huge that it requires what Wikipedia has: thousands of experts, editors, checkers and so on with expertise in different fields working over a period of years. Also, Wikipedia, unlike the World Book, for example, or even Encarta, is updated continuously. When we use the term "public property," we usually mean state property, but Wikipedia compromises the concept of ownership without dispossessing anyone: It is truly public property.
• •
What is perhaps most fascinating about Wikipedia is its demonstration in practical anarchy. It is an ever-shifting, voluntary, collaborative enterprise. If it is in the long run successful, it would show that people can make amazing things together without being commanded, constrained, taxed, bribed or punished.
• •
There are people who want to deface or even destroy Wikipedia. The right-wing blogger Ace of Spades -- out of mischief and because he heard Wikipedia's operators were liberals -- recently called on its readers to "punk" the site to put up as much misinformation and nonsense as possible. Other blogs gleefully expose errors, even if those defects persist only for a few minutes.
• •
If the vandals are successful, they'll more or less confirm the common wisdom that people are too evil and miserable to be allowed to govern themselves.
• •
But if Wikipedia grows into the greatest reference work ever made, it will suggest that great things are possible when you merely let people go and see what happens. CLICK FOR MORE JIMMY WALES PEOPLE STORY

Part 02h TIMELINE - Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia.org
1966 - Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales was born August 7, 1966 in Huntsville, Alabama. Wales attended a small private school, then a university preparation school, eventually attaining a bachelor's degree and master's degree in finance. During his graduate studies he taught at two universities. In 1996 along with two partners, he founded Bomis, a web portal targeted at males, which hosted and provided the initial funding for the Nupedia peer-reviewed encyclopedia (2000-2003), and for its successor, Wikipedia.
200906JuneMagCov300w.jpg• • His father, Jimmy, worked as a grocery store manager while his mother, Doris, and his grandmother, Erma, ran the House of Learning, a small private school in the tradition of the one-room schoolhouse, where Wales and his three siblings received their early education.
• • Wales has characterised the school's philosophy of education as influenced by the Montessori method, and stated that he "spent lots of hours pouring over the Britannicas and World Book Encyclopedias." He and only four other children were placed in the same grade, so the school grouped together the first through fourth grade students and the fifth through eighth grade students. Wales is sharply critical of the government's treatment of the school, citing the "constant interference and bureaucracy and very sort of snobby inspectors from the state" as a formative influence on his political philosophy. (CLICK FOR MORE STORY Source Wikipedia)
• Early life and education
1979 - After eighth grade, Wales attended Randolph School, a university-preparatory school in Huntsville,
1981 - Graduated from Huntsville, at sixteen.
• • Wales has said that the school was expensive for his family, but that "Education was always a passion in my household ... you know, the very traditional approach to knowledge and learning and establishing that as a base for a good life."
• • He received his bachelor's degree in finance from Auburn University (notable for its free market economists) and entered the Ph.D. finance program at the University of Alabama before leaving with a Master's degree to enter the Ph.D. finance program at Indiana University. He taught at both universities during his postgraduate studies, but did not write the doctoral dissertation required for a Ph.D., something which he has ascribed to boredom.
Career Chicago Options Associates and Bomis
1994 - In 1994, rather than undertaking to write his doctoral dissertation, Wales took a job with Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago, Illinois. By "speculating on interest rate and foreign-currency fluctuations," he had soon earned enough to "support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives," according to Daniel Pink of Wired. Wales had been addicted to the Internet from an early stage, used to write computer code as a pastime, and was an obsessive player of Multi-User Dungeons, a type of virtual role-playing game.
1994 - Published works: Brooks, Robert; Jon Corson, Jimmy Donal Wales (1994). "The Pricing of Index Options When the Underlying Assets All Follow a Lognormal Diffusion." Advances in Futures and Options Research.
1995 - Inspired by the remarkable initial public offering of Netscape in 1995, he decided to become an internet entrepreneur.
1996 - In 1996, along with two partners, he founded Bomis, a web portal targeted at males, which hosted and provided the initial funding for the Nupedia peer-reviewed encyclopedia (2000 - 2003), and for its successor, Wikipedia. The website featured user-generated webrings and that, according to The Atlantic Monthly, "found itself positioned as the Playboy of the Internet." For a time the company sold erotic photographs, and Wales described the site as a "guy-oriented search engine" with a similar market to Maxim's. Questions have arisen about the nature of its content.
1997 - Wales met his second wife, Christine Rohan, through a friend in Chicago while she was working as a steel trader for Mitsubishi. The couple were married in Monroe County, Florida in March 1997, and had a daughter named Kira before separating. Wales moved to San Diego in 1998, and relocated again in 2002, to St. Petersburg, Florida where he has remained as of 2007.
1998 - Wales moved to San Diego in 1998, and relocated again in 2002, to St. Petersburg, Florida.
2000 - Wales worked in finance, and as the research director of a Chicago futures and options firm and retired from the industry in 2000.
2000 - Web portal Bomis, (founded in 1996, did not become successful) -- but in March 2000 hosted and provided the initial funding for the Nupedia project.
2000 - Wales starts a peer-reviewed, open-content encyclopedia, Nupedia ("the free encyclopedia"). Nupedia was characterized by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias.
2000 - Wales hires Larry Sanger, a doctoral student in philosophy at Ohio State University, as Nupedia's editor-in-chief.

2001 - Wikipedia officially launched itself on January 15th. It is now the largest, fastest growing and most popular general reference work currently available on the Internet. Wikipedia in 2009 became the biggest online encyclopedia offering multilingual, open access and free content in multiple languages.  
2001 - The extreme programming enthusiast Ben Kovitz introduced Larry Sanger to the concept of a wiki. After explaining to Kovitz the slow pace of growth Nupedia endured as a result of its onerous submission process.
• • Kovitz suggested that adopting the wiki model would allow editors to contribute simultaneously and incrementally throughout the project, thus breaking Nupedia's bottleneck.
• • The first Nupedia Wiki - Sanger was excited about the idea, and after proposing it to Wales, they created the first Nupedia wiki on January 10, 2001. It was initially intended as a collaborative wiki for the public to write articles that would then be reviewed for publication by Nupedia's expert volunteers.
• • The majority of Nupedia's experts wanted nothing to do with this project, fearing that mixing amateur content with professionally researched and edited material would compromise the integrity of Nupedia's information and damage the credibility of the encyclopedia.
• • Thus the project, dubbed "Wikipedia" by Sanger, went live at a separate domain five days later.
• • Neither Sanger nor Wales expected very much from the Wikipedia initiative. Wales, anticipating "complete rubbish," hoped that if they were lucky, Wikipedia might yield a couple of rough draft entries for Nupedia. To the surprise of Sanger and Wales, within a few days of launching the number of articles on Wikipedia had outgrown that of Nupedia, and a small community of editors - many of whom shared Wales' admiration for the open-source movement - had gathered. Sanger developed Wikipedia in its early phase and guided the project.
2001 - Sanger was identified as co-founder at least as early as September 2001, by The New York Times and was referred to as a founder alongside Wales in Wikipedia's first press release in January 2002. In a 2005 memoir for Slashdot, Sanger, however, ascribed the broader idea to Wales: "To be clear, the idea of an open source, collaborative encyclopedia, open to contribution by ordinary people, was entirely Jimmy's, not mine, and the funding was entirely by Bomis. The actual development of this encyclopedia was the task he gave me to work on."
2001 - Wales, together with Larry Sanger and others, launched Wikipedia, a free, open-content encyclopedia which subsequently enjoyed rapid growth and popularity. As Wikipedia's public profile grew, Wales became the project's promoter and spokesman. Wales has been historically cited as the co-founder of Wikipedia, though he has disputed the "co-" designation, asserting that he was the sole founder of the encyclopedia. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit charitable organization which operates Wikipedia, holding the board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004, he co-founded Wikia, a privately-owned, free Web-hosting service, along with fellow Wikimedia trustee Angela Beesley.
2002 - Sanger worked on and promoted both the Nupedia and Wikipedia projects until Bomis discontinued funding for his position in February 2002, as chief of Nupedia and as "chief organizer" of Wikipedia on March 1. Wales has said that he initially was so worried with the concept that he would wake up in the middle of the night, wanting to check the site for vandalism. In the early years, Wales supplied the financial backing for the project. Originally, Wales had intended to place advertisements on Wikipedia but that idea was abandoned.
2002 - In August of that year, Wales identified himself as "co-founder" of Wikipedia. Sanger assembled on his personal webpage many links which appear to confirm his role in founding Wikipedia, all of which described Wales and Sanger as the co-founders.
2002 - Wales relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida where he has remained as of 2007.
0919wPhotopCovAll108w.jpg2003 - 03h Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia, Inc.
2003 - The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), a non-profit organization founded in mid-2003, was set up by Jimmy Wales in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is now based in San Francisco, California. All intellectual property rights and domain names pertaining to Wikipedia were moved to the new foundation, whose purpose is to establish general policy for the encyclopedia and its sister projects.
2004 - In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Wales outlined his vision for Wikipedia. "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." The growth and prominence of Wikipedia made Wales an Internet celebrity. Though he had never journeyed abroad prior to founding the site, Wikipedia saw him flying internationally as the public face of the project.
2004 - Co-founded Wikia, a privately-owned, free Web-hosting service, along with fellow Wikimedia trustee, Angela Beesley.
2004 - Wales and then-fellow member of the WMF Board of Trustees Angela Beesley founded the for-profit company Wikia, Inc. Wikia is a wiki farm -- a collection of individual wikis on different subjects, all hosted on the same website. It hosts some of the largest wikis outside Wikipedia, including Memory Alpha (devoted to Star Trek), Battlestar Wiki (Battlestar Galactica) and Wookieepedia (Star Wars). Another service offered by Wikia was an open source web search engine named Wikia Search, intended to challenge Google and introduce transparency and public dialogue about how it's created into the search engine's operations; but the project was abandoned in March 2009. Wales stepped down as Wikia CEO to be replaced by angel investor Gil Penchina, a former vice president and general manager at eBay, on June 5, 2006.
2005 - Jimmy Wales' lecture at Stanford University on February 9, 2005.
2005 - In late 2005, Wales edited his own biographical entry on the English Wikipedia. Writer Rogers Cadenhead drew attention to logs showing that in his edits to the page, Wales had removed references to Sanger as the co-founder of Wikipedia. Sanger commented that "having seen edits like this, it does seem that Jimmy is attempting to rewrite history. But this is a futile process because in our brave new world of transparent activity and maximum communication, the truth will out." Wales was also observed to have modified references to Bomis in a way that was characterized as downplaying the sexual nature of some of his former company's products. Though Wales argued that his modifications were solely intended to improve the accuracy of the content, he apologized for editing his own biography, a practice generally frowned upon at Wikipedia.
2005 - In a 2005 memoir for Slashdot, Sanger, however, ascribed the broader idea of Wikipedia to Wales: "To be clear, the idea of an open source, collaborative encyclopedia, open to contribution by ordinary people, was entirely Jimmy's, not mine, and the funding was entirely by Bomis. The actual development of this encyclopedia was the task he gave me to work on."
2006 - Wales has asserted that he is the sole founder of Wikipedia, and has publicly disputed Sanger's designation as a co-founder, describing the claim as "preposterous" to The Boston Globe in 2006, and calling "the whole debate silly" in an April 2009 interview.
2006 - Originally its chairman, Wales has held the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus of the foundation since 2006. He is now one of eight directors who make up its Board of Trustees. The work he carries out for the foundation has always been unpaid, including his appearances to promote the organization at computer and educational conferences.
2007 - In a 2007 interview, Wales said that he thought that "donating" Wikipedia to the foundation was both the "dumbest and the smartest" thing he'd done. On the one hand, he noted, Wikipedia was worth US$3 billion (by his estimation); on the other, donating it made possible the success he achieved.
2005 - Wales is appointed as a member of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
2005 - Wales, on October 3rd, joins the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses.
2006 - Wales stepped down as Wikia CEO to be replaced by angel investor Gil Penchina, a former vice president and general manager at eBay, on June 5, 2006.
2006 - Wales joins the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization Creative Commons.
2006 - The Electronic Frontier Foundation, on May 3rd, awards him a Pioneer Award.
2006 - Wales, on May 8th, is listed in the "Scientists & Thinkers" section of the 100 influential people special edition of TIME magazine.
2006 - On June 3rd, Wales receives an honorary degree from Knox College.
2006 - Wales is appointed to the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
2007 - Forbes magazine ranks Wales twelfth in its first annual "The Web Celebs 25."
2007 - Wales is recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of the 'Young Global Leaders' of 2007.
2008 - Wales co-chairs the World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2008, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
2008 - CORUM awards him The Global Brand Icon™ of the Year Award for 2008. Wales has established himself as the world's 'uncompromising defender' of free speech," said Karthik Siva, founder and CEO of the Global Brand Forum.
2008 - Jimmy Wales receives and accepts on behalf of the Wikimedia project the Quadriga Award by Werkstatt Deutschland, on October 3, 2008, at the Komische Oper, in Berlin, Germany, for a "Mission of Enlightenment," along with Serbian President, Boris Tadic, Eckart Höfling and Peter Gabriel. The award was presented by David Weinberger. The annual award recognizes four people or organizations that "try to create a better world through courage, dedication, and responsible action."
2008 - Wales, on October 30th, is awarded the "Business Process Award" at the 7th Annual Innovation Awards and Summit by The Economist, for public collaboration as a form of product and content development."
2009 - Wikia Search project abandoned; offered in 2004, as another service by Wikia - an open source web search engine named Wikia Search, intended to challenge Google and introduce transparency and public dialogue about how it's created into the search engine's operations.
2009 - Wales, Jimmy; Andrea Weckerle, published works: "Most Define User-Generated Content Too Narrowly," Advertising Age, March 30, 2009.
2009 - Jimmy Wales Keynote at Hollywood Digital Spring in Santa Monica on May 5th; One on One conversation with Ronald Grover, Los Angeles Buureau Chief, BusinessWeek.

/Imagespeople/JimmywalesWiki108w.jpg04headline TVI Bylines / Portrait of Wales by Joi Ito - Anyone who knows Wikipedia will love Jimmy Wales
• • "People do what they want," said Wikipedia's founder at the recent Digital Hollywood Spring keynote address. "There is no master plan what people are interested in." The question is, how can we partner with people to have a symbiotic realationship. The Wiki model got good at traditional core demographics. We see outside that geek fandom world.
• • "We made it ourselves!" is the core of the community pride and any editing war can be solved through conversation. Cool off a bit and restart the dialogue!
• • Philosophy • Wales is a self-avowed "Objectivist to the core," and named his daughter Kira after the heroine in Ayn Rand's debut novel We the Living, although he has said "I think I do a better job-- than a lot of people who self-identify as Objectivists&emdash;of not pushing my point of view on other people."
• • Wales first encountered Objectivism when reading Rand's novel The Fountainhead while an undergraduate, and later ran an electronic mailing list on Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy. When asked about Rand's influence by Brian Lamb in his appearance on C-SPAN's Q&A in September 2005, Wales cited integrity and "the virtue of independence" as important to him personally.
• • When asked if he could trace "the Ayn Rand connection" to having a political philosophy at the time of the interview, Wales reluctantly labeled himself a libertarian, qualifying his remark by referring to the United States Libertarian Party as "lunatics" and citing "freedom, liberty, basically individual rights, that idea of dealing with other people in a matter that is not initiating force against them" as his guiding principles.
• • He rejects the notion that his mission in promoting Wikipedia is altruistic, which he defines as "sacrificing your own values for others "stating " that participating in a benevolent effort to share information is somehow destroying your own values makes no sense to me." An interview with Wales served as the cover feature of the June 2007 issue of the libertarian magazine Reason.
The Use of Knowledge in Society"
• • Wales cites Austrian School economist Friedrich von Hayek's essay "The Use of Knowledge in Society," which he read as an undergraduate, as "central" to his thinking about "how to manage the Wikipedia project."
• • Hayek argues that knowledge is decentralised - that each individual only knows a small fraction of what is known collectively - and that as a result, systems in which decisions are made centrally fail to aggregate knowledge as efficiently as in decentralised models.
• • Wales reconsidered the essay in the 1990s, while reading about the open source movement (which advocated that software be free and distributed).
• • He was moved in particular by The Cathedral and the Bazaar, an essay and later book by one of the founders of the movement, Eric S. Raymond, which "opened [his] eyes to the possibilities of mass collaboration." In it, Raymond contrasts the traditional hierarchical mode of software development, where access to source code is restricted to a choice group of developers ("The Cathedral"), with the open source model whereby access to the code is available to anyone on the Internet ("The Bazaar"). Raymond's argument in favour of the latter "crowdsourcing" model was summarized by the aphorism "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

Wikipedia Success
"No gatekeepers and free access make up the secret of success for this network of now 262 languages and more than 10 million articles." Karthik Siva, founder and CEO of the Global Brand Forum.

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