When Kofi Annan said “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating”, we assumed he was referring to Wikipedia. And for all that matters, we wouldn’t be wrong to link the two.
Just as much a visionary, Jimmy Donal Wales, the co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation, embarked on a journey of making a free, open encyclopedia whose exhaustive ever-increasing content, is contributed and owned solely by volunteers, on Monday, 15 January 2001. And the world knows it as Wikipedia.
The 13th most popular website has grown to become the default reference for all student research and community learning throughout the world. However, with a chaotic system where anybody could volunteer to publish, there are bound to be a few challenges. Today, on 07, August, we are celebrating the birthday of Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Donal Wales.
Name: Jimmy Donal Wales
Date of Birth: August 7, 1966
Net Worth: $1.5 Million
A wiki, which saw its origins in the 1970s, was formulated in 1994 by Ward Cunningham and Wikipedia is undoubtedly the most popular wiki. Started as a rather organized Nupedia in early Jimmy, created the WikiMedia Foundation, the non-profit to which he donated his other creation Wikipedia, the community-driven encyclopedia it is, today.
Growing at 10 edits/sec by editors from all over the world and the over 22 million registered users on Wikipedia and a growing number of digital ones (computer programs known as bots that hoover up content from other sources ), it’s pretty unimaginable how such a mammoth initiative to compile the sum of all human knowledge can live without hiccups.
Today, the 33 million pages strong collaborative’s two main challenges, according to Jimmy Wales, remain:
1. Authenticity of contributed information, and
2. Policies about the biographies of living people and keeping their information true and correct.
A few less known facts about Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia
1. Jimmy is known online as “Jimbo”, purely because he had to cook up a username after not being able to get ‘Jimmy’ or ‘Jim’.
1. In 1996 Jimmy Wales, Tim Shell, and Michael Davis founded a dot-com company called Bomis.com, rhyming ‘promise’.
2. Bomis, initially created a directory of information about Chicago, which then changed to a male audience-centric portal including automobiles, sporting activities, and women.
3. Soon, Bomis started focusing on X-rated content and became famous. They also created “Bomis Babes” devoted to erotic images, “Bomis Babe Report” with featured adult pictures, and a web search engine for erotic content, aptly named “The Babe Engine”. While Bomis was described by scholars as a provider of soft-core pornography, Bomis was nicknamed “Playboy of the Internet” by The Atlantic.
4. Jimmy and his team, first built Wikipedia to provide content for Nupedia, their free online encyclopedia, with the content submitted by experts. However, the tedious and slow review process on Nupedia and the dot-com crash forced Nupedia to be ceased in 2003 and the content got merged into Wikipedia. Even the Bomis hardware was donated to the Wikimedia Foundation for the smooth functioning of Wikipedia.
5. Wales used about US$100,000 of revenue from Bomis to fund Wikipedia before the decision to shift the encyclopedia to non-profit status.
6. On 20 Sep 2004, Wikipedia reached the million-article mark, on an expenditure of $500,000, most directly from Jimmy.
7. In 2006, Jimmy Wales, among TIME’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in the “Scientists & Thinkers” section, considers the free flow of information a human rights issue. In February 2014, Jimmy Wales was named one of “25 Web Superstars” by The Daily Telegraph. On May 17, 2015, Wales received the Dan David Prize of $1 million for “launching the world’s largest online encyclopedia”.
8. Jimmy’s for-profit venture Wikia which helps people easily take part and create wikis for themselves, got profitable only by mid-2009.
9. Jimmy’s ‘Donate to Wikipedia’ campaign earned Wikipedia $16 million in donations by readers and the public.
10. Though Wales does not favor advertising, he has quoted (in a Time Magazine interview) that if the public stops giving donations and Wikipedia does not have enough funds to run, at first he would downsize his team from the 200 paid employees and last he would resort to obscure advertising for some money to keep Wikipedia going.
11. Jimmy proudly announced that the first office of Wikimedia outside the US was in India, in 2013. And as of today, Wikimedia has Local chapters in 33 countries.
12. Making accessing Wikipedia free, through tie-ups with mobile operators, Wikipedia Zero has achieved the possibility in 29 countries with 34 operators.
We thank him for keeping Wikipedia alive for over a decade and congratulate him on delivering meaningful knowledge to millions of people around the world, making them more educated and informed. We wish him another era of a prosperous and great life, today, as he turns 56. Happy Birthday Jimmy Wales.
The article is a part of the B’day Series where we celebrate the birthday of renowned personalities from across Industries, very frequently. The series includes Entrepreneurs, C-level Executives, innovators or renewed leaders who moved the industry with their exponential skill set and vision. The intent is to highlight the person’s achievements and touch base the little known, but interesting, part of his life. You can see the list of all earlier celebrated tech personalities, including Mark Zuckerberg, Marrisa Mayor, Sean Parker, Andy Rubin, Julian Assange, by following this link or subscribe to your daily newsletter.
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