Informaticopia

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jimmy Wales in Bristol on Thursday, part of wikipedia's 10th birthday celebrations


Jimmy Wales the co-founder of Wikipedia is coming to Bristol on Thursday (13 January 2011) for a series of meetings and talks as part of the 10th birthday celebrations for the a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopaedia.

I will be taking the day off work to assist with some of the activities at the Watershed and then attending his talk and Q&A session at the Victoria Rooms.

I don't know what will be in his talk. I suspect he will talk about the ten year history of wikipedia including the massive growth in both content and number of editors, which has slowed as the emphasis changed from quantity to quality, and how it has become an important component in the layers of information authority. Wikipedia has played a significant role in the wider development of the internet and world wide web, becoming the 5th most popular site, with almost no funding or paid staff, and has changed thinking about information dissemination - even beginning to challenges some accepted paradigms of academic publishing.

I hope that he will be talking about the future direction of wikipedia, but also touch on some of his objectivist and libertarian philosophy which has influenced his contribution. Wales says he was influenced by Friedrich Hayek's work "The Use of Knowledge in Society" to underpin the collaborative approach, and I wonder about the implications of this might be in wider society.

His talk is organised as part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas in conjunction with Connecting Bristol, Bristol City Council, BBC Anchor Trust and Wikimedia UK. The tickets all sold out very quickly but it will be webcast by the City Council with the chance for the online audience to suggest a question using the watch and comment feature. There will also be discussion on twitter using #wp10.

If the code all works, the webcast should also appear below. The speech is expected to begin at 12:00 GMT and last for approximately 1 hour.



I should declare an interest. I've been editing wikipedia since 2004 and have made over 50,000 edits, significantly contributing to 10 Featured Articles, 13 Featured Lists and 47 Good Articles as defined by wikipedia's internal quality assurance mechanisms. I don't generally edit articles related to work concentrating on local history and geography which falls within the Somerset wikiproject. I hope that this talk and the activities surrounding the 10th birthday celebrations will encourage others to contribute and improve wikipedia further.

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