Jimmy Wales on a Business Model for Social Networking
Jimmy Wales is an American Internet entrepreneur known for his role in the creation of Wikipedia, a free, open-content encyclopedia launched in 2001. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, holding the board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004, he co-founded Wikia, a privately owned, free Web-hosting service, along with Angela Beesley.
Together with Larry Sanger and others, Wales helped lay the foundation for Wikipedia, which subsequently enjoyed rapid growth and popularity. As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Wales took on the role of the project's spokesman and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances. Wales has been historically cited as the co-founder of Wikipedia but he disputes the "co-" designation, asserting that he is the sole founder of Wikipedia. Wales' work developing Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of the world's most influential people.
Born 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.
Question: Will social networking ever find a working business plan?
Jimmy Wales: That’s a good question. I mean, I guess, you know, in large part we’re talking about Facebook when we’re talking about looking for the magic bullet sort of business plan. On the other hand, I don’t know if Facebook is profitable, I don’t know if they announced that or not, but I know they’re bringing in quite a large amount of money, and they spend it all on trying to make the site better. So I’m not so sure that they need a magic bullet in order to survive. Whether they can become sort of huge like Google. I don’t know. One of the interesting things about social networking is that it is very different from search in that there’re obvious and very explicit network externalities that you need to be on a certain social network, because all your friends are there. And to move from that to another social network requires either abandoning your friends, or convincing them to come with you. It’s non-trivial. As opposed to if I find a better search engine, I just switch my browser’s default homepage and there I go, I’m off to the races on the new search engine. SO I think that’s incredibly valuable from a business perspective. From a consumer perspective, it’s something I would be concerned about. That we all got locked into Microsoft for a long time, and lots of people still are, because of those same kinds of network externalities. I needed a Windows computer, because all my friends had a Windows computer. And that’s a problem. That’s diminished over time, now. I have also changed friends, so now I need an Apple computer, because all my friends have an Apple computer. But the-- I think in the end, you know, we can look at something like MySpace, where there’re just-- I don’t know, in my opinion, they’re just milking it for money right now. I mean, they monetize it like crazy! There’s tons of ads all over it. The whole site’s quite annoying. Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate MySpace. I don’t know, but I think there’re some interesting questions. As far as some interesting and amazing new business models for Facebook, I don’t really see it, but what I do see is they’ve got all this valuable demographic data. One of the things that we know is valuable for both advertisers and consumers is relevancy. Certainly, right now Facebook does not particularly show me particularly relevant ads when they do show me ads, so I can’t think they’re performing very well. But they’re getting better at that. I mean, they’re getting a lot better of sort of allowing people to figure out who it is that they want to talk to, and who is it that’s receptive to their message, and then showing those ads. And if they can do that, I think they’ll be very successful.
Recorded on: 04/30/2008
Will social networking sites ever find the magic bullet?
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Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.
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- See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
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Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.
- Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
- Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
- While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.
The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.
For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.
A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."
Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.
Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.
As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.
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