Jimmy Wales on Yahoo in China
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 should Yahoo have done differently?
Jimmy Wales: Well, Yahoo!’s in an interesting situation, because they don’t actually have ownership of their subsidiary in China. It’s run by a separate Chinese company, and they don’t have a majority control. Now I have not real deep knowledge of what they could be doing. In other words, does their contract allow them to withdraw the brand, and under what circumstances. But I mean, I think some of the main principles people should be using is to say, you know, “We’re going to notify people when we censor content.” This is one of the things that Google does. If you’re in China, and you search for something, they tell you that, “Some of the results were removed from this page.” So that it raises people’s awareness that, “Gee, I’m not seeing the whole internet.” Another thing you do is try really hard to keep user data out of China so that you don’t end up causing political activists to go to jail for complaining about the government. Those’re some of the kinds of things that I think should be done. But then additionally, the thing that people need to remember is that China is not a crazed one-person dictatorship, right? There’re a few of those around the planet, and those present very different difficulties and obstacles. China’s a country of laws. There’s a legislature, there’s lobbyists. It’s not a really great democracy in lots of ways. But it is a place where policy can be changed through lobbying processes, and I would like to see these companies making an investment there, and making the case in a really serious way at the highest levels that, you know, “This is something that should be changed. It’s not good for China’s image around the world. And it’s not good internally for China.” I’m hopeful right now. We just had a change in government in China, so there’s been some shuffling of ministers. So we’re gonna have a new minister in charge of censoring the internet. I have no idea what his views are gonna be, but hopefully they’ll be a little more open. And we also have the Olympics coming up. And so a lot of people believe that the unblockings that have occurred recently have to do with public image around the Olympics. Also public image around Tibet. It’s an important issue for China. And opening things up a bit, sort of makes people feel a little better about China, and that’s something lots of people have said. They think China’s gonna try to put forward the best face during the Olympics. Lots of people are concerned, too, that of course, as soon as the Olympics are over, it’s just crackdown time again. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I mean, I don’t think that they’re that unreasonable. I think if-- what happens is, “Gee, we unblocked Wikipedia, even Chinese Wikipedia for six months, and what we found out was, gee, lots of Chinese people went on Chinese Wikipedia and started putting forward a Chinese point of view, instead of a Taiwanese point of view. It’s not a bad thing. And actually we don’t have riots in the streets or anything. It’s actually pretty dull in the grand scheme of things. People are looking at Wikipedia, so what? And then decide to leave it open to say, “Well, look, this isn’t the kind of thing we need to be worried about, even if we’re still gonna be quite harsh on bloggers who criticize the government and things like that.” Well, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, we’ll see.
Recorded on: 4/30/08
Yahoo doesn't own its Chinese subsidiary, says Wales.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.