Jimmy Wales on Intellipedia
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: What do you make of Intellipedia?
Jimmy Wales: It’s really interesting. I mean, I actually talked to some of the people who were involved in the Intellipedia project, and you know, a big part of what they face is, again, quite boring and mundane, right? If you’re an intelligence agency, and your job is to gather information so that the leadership of the government can make good decisions, it’s really a bad thing if you give bad information because your internal structures are broken. Because they’re not taking advantage of normal, modern technologies, and that’s a big part of what apparently happens, and has happened in the past is that, because they have very rigid information flow structures. The right people don’t get the right information at the right time, and errors are made, and that’s just terrible. Certainly, you know, I think wherever you stand on certain questions like military action in various places, right, I think almost everybody on all sides of the question would certainly agree that, “Gee, before we take any military action, we better make absolutely damn sure we have good information, right? So that we avoid it when we need to, and we only do it when we have to, and need to, and it makes sense.” Almost no one would disagree with that and say, “Actually I hope the government bumbles around blindly with no idea what’s going on,” right? So for me, it’s a positive sign to see that at least some people are starting to take seriously that, gee, there’s a huge information problem that needs to be solved.
Recorded on: 04/30/2008
Jimmy Wales explains Intellipedia.
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