CKK08 – Week 10. Openness: The collective building of Utopia.

Jimmy Wales and Jorge Crom

Jimmy Wales and Jorge Crom

It took seven year to write the biggest Encyclopedia in Spanish. It has 413.000 articles and 22 millions of editions that revised, extended, corrected and updated its content. Its distribution is completely free, using any Internet navigator. Its contents may be copied and re-distributed freely. It is Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). A non profit, open and collaborative effort of networked volunteers that spontaneously and generously write and edit the digital encyclopedia.

Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, it is written in 264 languages. Its credibility and verifiability is based on an infinite edition and correction process by its community of followers.  Any hacking and bad intentions are neutralized and emended in 20 minutes average time. Their articles try to show a neutral standpoint where all the positions are expressed through a knowledge collaborative building effort, which in some cases is not easy to obtain. MediaWiki, the software license of its platform can be freely downloaded from Internet. Their servers are distributed all over the world.

Talking with Jimmy Wales, last week in Buenos Aires, he defines Wikipedia as “an open Encyclopedia freely licensed to all persons in the world to access all the human knowledge”. Wikipedia is today one of the five most visited sites in the web and is sustained by the collaboration and donations of the public.  “Small individual contributions are better than large institutional donations to preserve independency” says Jimmy. A staff of 22 persons work in the development, maintenance and technical support of the platform and coordinating volunteers. Jimmy is always traveling around the world advocating and pushing this wiki spirit.

Nature magazine selected 50 articles of similar extension from Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia and gave them to same quantity of specialist for them to detect errors. Three errors per article were founded in Encyclopedia Britannica while four were founded in Wikipedia’s articles. “What is amazing is that the articles of Encyclopedia Britannica are written by specialist on each subject and could not be corrected till the next printed edition. This brought a crisis in Encyclopedia Britannica while Wikipedia made the corrections immediately” says Jimmy. Wikipedia is one of the best examples of the Wiki spirit, the collective construction of Utopia.

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2 Responses to “CKK08 – Week 10. Openness: The collective building of Utopia.”

  1. Gregory Kohs Says:

    The “Nature” magazine study was not conducted using scientific method; in fact, it was a biased assessment carried out by the Nature BLOG staff, not Nature magazine. The fact of the matter is, Wikipedia is getting progressively LESS reliable, as a University of Minnesota study found, and as the recent study of the 100 articles related to the U.S. senators — wrong 6.8% of the time, during the fourth quarter of 2007.

    Sorry to see you’ve fallen so fully under the spell of Wikipedia and/or Wales. Neither has a reliable track record for accuracy and ethics.

  2. jcrom Says:

    Gregory:
    Thanks for your comment. I was based on what Jimmy Wales told me. Is it possible to send me the link of the University of Minnesota study? I will apreciate it.

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