October 13, 2010 Mike Gwaltney , , , no responses

Founder of “The Free Encyclopedia” Honored for Democratizing Knowledge

A Swiss organization has awarded Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales 100,000 Swiss francs ($104,000) for “democratizing the access to knowledge.” The founder of Wikipedia has created a tool that allows for access to humanity’s greatest resource – our collective knowledge – by making it available anywhere to anyone with internet access.  Moreover, Wikipedia makes it possible for anyone to contribute to that base of knowledge easily, and for new contributions to be quickly disseminated.

The Im Grueene Foundation said Friday the free online encyclopedia “revolutionized the access to knowledge as man’s most important resource” because it allows users to also be contributors. … Wales has said the site has more than 3 million entries in English, far more than a traditional encyclopedia, and is rapidly expanding into other languages, with almost a million entries in French and more in German.  (Google News)

There was a time when access to knowledge was limited, and routes to power were thus restricted to people with access. The internet promises to change this, and Wikipedia is just one example of a web tool tearing down the old social order.  Regardless of what you think of the veracity of Wikipedia’s information (studies show it’s very good, here and here), if you agree that opportunities for self-improvement and social mobility should be available to all, Jimmy Wales’s invention is a boon for the world.

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Mike Gwaltney