Jimmy Wales and his Views on the Free Culture Movement – By Carla Cornejo

According to biography.com, Jimmy Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama to a humble family on August 7th, 1966. As a child, he was known for his intellect and interest in reading encyclopedias. He studied finance in college but dropped out for entrepreneurship. In the internet’s earliest days, Wales had many visions to further develop it and make something greater of it. His main vision was to create an online encyclopedia, something that was driven by both of his biggest passions. In March of 2000, he created “Nupedia” which was an “open-content, peer moderated reference site”. The next year with the help of his co-founder, he adopted the “wiki” model and “wikipedia” came into existence. Evidently, “Wikipedia” became more popular than “Nupedia” and is still very prominent on the internet now. Along with the creation of Wikipedia, Wales is also known for his views on free content and his objective views on  “individualism, capitalism, and reason”.

In the book “Jimmy Wales: Vision: Wikipedia and the Future of Free Culture”, Wales explains the concepts behind his design of Wikipedia and how it impacts the “free culture”. He describes his social innovation and his views on providing things, like an online encyclopedia, to be accessible for anyone to edit. His vision for Wikipedia was “to create and distribute a free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality to every single person on the planet in their own language”. One of the most important topics in the book is the copyright debate. Like many people know, Wikipedia is popular for enabling users to access and edit any content in the encyclopedia.

The free culture movement is defined as “sharing, reuse and cooperative production” and “has always existed in computer networks, long before there was a proper name for it”. A specific quote from Wales’ novel that struck to me regarding the free culture movement was, “If you prevent people from doing bad things, you prevent them from doing good things, and it eliminates opportunities for trust.” He believes taking the risk of putting specific content in the hands of the public is worth it because it creates opportunity for better ideas to be shared. Every edit is an improvement for Jimmy, and being able to share and distribute any content is beneficial for everyone.

This book report was based on the novel “Jimmy Wales Vision: Wikipedia and the Future of Free Culture” and the following sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/jimmy-wales-39135#personal-life

http://longnow.org/seminars/02006/apr/14/vision-wikipedia-and-the-future-of-free-culture/

http://felix.openflows.com/pdf/FreeCulture_Kosmos_full.pdf

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