Wikipedia founder Wales to lecture at UI

Photo by Joi Ito.

Jimmy Wales might not be a household name, but if you’ve ever used an Internet search engine, his impact on the cyberworld is usually found on the first page of returns.

Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, will present a lecture titled “Democracy and the Internet” at 7:30 p.m., March 8, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus. Wales’s appearance is presented by the UI Lecture Committee through the Spring 2011 F. Wendell Miller Fund. It is free and open to the public.

The origins of Wikipedia, an international, collaborative free-content encyclopedia on the Internet, began in March 2000, when Wales started Nupedia (“the free encyclopedia”), which was characterized by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed “Wikipedia.” Wales laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year.

As of Feb. 21, 2011, the English Wikipedia has 3,564,535 articles and 23,299,463 pages in total. Overall, there are more than 91,000 active contributors working on more than 17,000,000 articles in more than 270 languages.

The World Economic Forum recognized Wales as one of the “Young Global Leaders” of 2007. This prestigious award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders across the world for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society, and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

For more information on the UI Lecture Committee, see lectures.uiowa.edu.

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