Leading Technology Futurist and Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales is one of the most sought after visionaries in business and technology. Today Wikipedia is the 5th most popular website in the world!
Named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” Jimmy Wales was also acknowledged by the World Economic Forum — the foremost global gathering of political, business and cultural leaders — as one of the top 250 young leaders across the world for his professional accomplishments, his commitment to society, and his potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.
The origins of Wikipedia began in March 2000, when Jimmy Wales started Nupedia (“the free encyclopedia”), which was characterised by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed “Wikipedia.” Jimmy laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was initially intended to be a wiki-based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to Nupedia, but Wikipedia’s rapid growth quickly overshadowed Nupedia’s development.
In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Jimmy Wales explained his motivations about 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 success of the project has helped popularize a trend in web development (called Web 2.0) that aims to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users.
As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Jimmy took on the role of the project’s spokesperson and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances. His work with Wikipedia, which has become the world’s largest encyclopedia, prompted TIME Magazine to name him one of its “100 Most Influential People,” in 2006 in the “Scientists & Thinkers” category.
In 2003, Jimmy Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, the 5th most popular website in the world.
In 2004, he co-founded, with Angela Beesley, 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. As part of his work at Wikia, Inc., Jimmy is developing a human-powered search engine, Search Wikia, which will be based on the same open, transparent, community-driven principles of Wikia and Wikipedia.
Jimmy is a Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. He serves on the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses and the non-profit organisation Creative Commons. He has received an honorary doctorate from Knox College of Illinois and was presented with a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2006.
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