<CPOV> The world according to Jimmy Wales?

Maja van der Velden majava at ifi.uio.no
Mon May 24 11:51:47 CEST 2010


Until i started to prepare for my presentation at the CPOV conference,  
i never really paid attention to Jimmy Wales. Now i do ;-) So i read  
this interview with him in a Norwegian newspaper last Saturday. The  
article has the title ' Jimmypedia'. Here is a section from the  
interview (translated from the Norwegian):

Jimmy Wales on several occasions expressed that Wikipedia is going to  
save the world.

"I think Wikipedia has already saved the world. But I still think the  
biggest impact lies ahead, "he said.

-In developing countries, access to information has been extremely  
limited and in many languages, we are the first encyclopedia that  
exists. When you talk with people who try to help schools in Africa,  
they say that they teach material from textbooks that were written 30  
years ago. People in Africa may know more about what happened in  
England in the 70th century than what happened in the neighboring  
country until recently. The lack of information is an opportunity for  
tyrants, and others who want to manipulate the truth.

He thinks the first Wikipedia page in the Arabic language is  
important, even though it still only has 125,000 articles.

"There has never existed any traditional encyclopaedia in Arabic. Now  
there is here. A few years ago as many books were translated into  
Arabic in one year as there were books were translated into German in  
one day. So there is a huge population that has not had access to  
information the rest of us take for granted. And one of my favorite  
projects is the Wikipedia page in the Wolof language in Senegal. So  
far, only 1000 articles, but it's a start. I am incredibly excited at  
the idea that we are in Wolof. I love it.

Where does this 'saving the world' idea come from? What does it mean  
in the context of Wikipedia? Anyone knows?

What he says about encyclopedias in Arabic is of course nonsense  
(there is a rich history of encyclopedia-writing in the Arab world).  
Wikipedia itself has some entries on Arab encyclopedias:


and for some examples of their authors, see:


A quick look online and i found these Wiki-style Arabic lexicons/ 

Global Arabic Encyclopedia: http://www.mawsoah.net
Dahsha: http://www.dahsha.com/

Is it his ignorance or is Wales purposely creating a world in which he/ 
Wikipedia can be the saviour?



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