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Power of Wikis - An exclusive interview with Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia


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This Feb 07 Corporate ezine PR-e-Sense deals with the various aspects of Wikis and their strength. We also bring out an exclusive interview with Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia. This ezine is brought to you by Prime Point Foundation

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Power of Wikis - An exclusive interview with Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

  1. 1. India’s first corporate PR ezine VOL 1 Issue 12 – February 07 Published by Prime Point Foundation (Supported by Chennai PR Club) PR-e-FACE: From the desk of Chief Editor “Collaborative functioning has come to stay “ “Imagine a world in which done in a more participative manner. every single person on As against the conventional model of the planet is given free ‘conferences’ this ‘Unconference’ access to the sum of all provided lot of opportunities to share human knowledge. That the knowledge in a comfortable and is what we are doing”. friendly atmosphere, with fun and joy. These world famous words were spoken by The message that we gained was that Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, people behave in a more ‘disciplined’ the online free encyclopedia and the manner in an uncontrolled and free largest reference website on the atmosphere, (read : Wiki and internet. Unconference) than in a controlled situation. Wiki has changed the usage of internet from ‘private’ to ‘collaborative’ tool. Corporates need to include such new Wiki enables all users to contribute to tools like Wikis and Unconferences in the knowledge pool. Wiki is an their professional agenda to involve effective communication tool in the the entire community. hands of Corporates and they need to make use of this collaborative tool We are privileged to carry an exclusive along with their traditional websites. interview with Jimmy Wales in this issue. The recent first ‘Unconference’ K. Srinivasan WikiCamp held at Chennai has not only opened up our thinking process towards this ‘open and collaborative tool’ Wiki, on the internet, but also as how a Seminar or Conference can be PR-e-CISE – Inside this ezine • • An exclusive interview with Jimmy Expert views on Unconference and Wales, Founder, Wikipedia and Wikis for Corporates • Wikimedia Foundation. A note on WikiCamp 2007
  2. 2. 2 PR-eXCLUSIVE “Wiki respects every individual’s contribution” Listen to the full interview through podcast at Q: Good morning elect among themselves Mr. Jimmy. What administrators and also there are made you to many mechanisms on the website that start the allow the community to exercise Wikipedia? controls and quality. And for example, Jimmy: I have every single change is recorded in the been watching the “recent changes” page and all of the growth of the free past versions of the articles are saved software moment, i.e., open source for ever so that, if someone comes up software movement and I have seen and makes an article that was a lower people coming together online making quality than it was before, someone software products of very high quality can restore the best version. Lot of all using free licenses. So, people can little techniques like that empowers copy, modify, and redistribute the the community to actually build work commercially and non- something that’s more valuable. commercially. Then I realized this is a new social model which will allow the Q: What would happen if people to collaborate on anything and somebody gives wrong all kinds of things. And so, I thought information or manipulates the ‘encyclopedia’ will be a good project information? and as soon as I thought about that, I Jimmy : Typically, that is a multiple wanted everyone to be realizing that step process. We really try to be a the world to have a free encyclopedia very friendly and welcoming for every one. That was the beginning community and try to help people of the idea. understand what we are trying to do. If somebody comes in and puts in Q: In which year you started the some wrong information, so as a Joke WikiPedia? or something, for the first time they Jimmy : Wikipedia was started on will get a warning that will say, “Please January 15, 2001. But prior to that, for don’t do this to Wikipedia, try to help two year I had a project called our effort to create a high quality “Nupedia” which had the same goal as encyclopedia, and we found this WikiPedia, in terms of having free inappropriate”. You would be surprised licenses encyclopedia with thousands that many people, when they hear of volunteers, but I didn’t have the this, they would say “You know, idea of the “Wiki” editing model. So, it actually I probably shouldn’t have was designed as a very traditional top messed with Wikipedia.” Beyond that, down model that shows something if they keep it up over time, they can generic. be blocked from editing and the community can then revert back the Q: So, how do you ensure the previous version. credibility of the information & integrity? Q: How it can help the corporate Jimmy : There is a very good world? community of users very actively and Jimmy : A lot of companies are now meticulously policing the site and they finding Wiki to be very useful internally
  3. 3. 3 to allow employees to share the Q: What inspired you to start information quickly. The word “Wiki” Wikipedia? comes from the Hawaiian word “Wiki Jimmy : Originally, as I said it was Wiki” which means “quick”. It is a the open source software, i.e., free quick collaboration. And so, one of the software movement. As a child, when I problems that a lot of companies face, was growing up, I had parents who particularly large companies, is how to really strongly emphasize education. I get the information flowing through went to a very small private school run the organization in a fast and effective by mother and grand mother. There manner. Many times, companies make were only four children in my grade! It poor decisions simply because one was a one room school-house, very old part of the organization has some fashioned, small school. I had lots of information that the other part didn’t. fun when I used to read encyclopedia. The idea of Wiki inside a company is to I used to read the words in enable people to really share encyclopedia Britannica quite a bit. As information in a much faster, broader, a child I always had the idea of broad and simpler way. Lot of companies are information and just loved reading. now finding it very useful. Q: How do you see the future of Q: Do you have any advice to the Wiki’s in another 5 to 10 years? corporate world? Jimmy: I think one the most Jimmy : I think the best advice is to important things that you are going to experiment with Wiki and to respect see in five to ten years is that the the medium and to understand what editing process to become a lot easier, makes the Wiki successful is “respect a lot smoother, a lot more for every individual’s contributions”, so approachable by people who are not that even if someone in the company necessarily IT specialists. I think that is doing something that is not so is probably the most important thing great, if you have a positive attitude of that you are going to see. And I think encouraging them, others will see this you are going to see that Wiki is used and think themselves about posting for more things that are useful. Your information. If you have a very are going to realize people can write hierarchical company Wiki won’t work Wiki and can do fictions and do all for you, because the employees will be kinds of things in Wiki that I would too afraid to type something that may have never expected, but I’m seeing upset their bosses. If you can accept all this creativity emerge online. I that, Wiki will be an open process and actually don’t know, I think we have to it can work very well. watch and see what people come up with. Wikipedia introduction Wikipedia has content from Arts, Biography, History Mathematics, Wikipedia is an Science, Society, Technology, etc. All online free these content in Wikipedia are posted encyclopedia; the by Internet users for sharing brain child of information with others. With rare Jimmy Wales. It exceptions, its articles can be edited has information on by anyone with access to the internet, all the topics under simply by clicking the edit this page the sun. Wikipedia link. The name Wikipedia is a is available across the globe in combination of the words wiki and different languages and is also encyclopedia. This is the largest online available in various regional reference website in the world languages.
  4. 4. 4 PR –e- Views – Wiki Basics What is Wiki? markup language using a web browser. A single page in a Wiki is referred to as a "Wiki page", while the A Wiki is an openly editable set of entire body of pages, which are usually pages that allows any user to edit highly interconnected via hyperlinks, is content through a simple browser. A "the Wiki"; in effect, a Wiki is actually Wiki is a piece of server software that a very simple, easy-to-use user- allows users to freely create and edit maintained database for searching or Web page content using any Web even creating information. browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between History behind Wiki internal pages on the fly. It all started when a renowned person In a layman’s words named Ward Cunningham started developing WikiWikiWeb in 1994 and installed it on Internet domain Imagine a public park with a wall set on March 25, 1995. It was named by aside for mural artists. Anyone could Cunningham, who remembered a show up at any time and start Honolulu International Airport counter painting, adding to existing images, employee telling him to take the so- filling blank space, or whitewashing as called "Wiki Wiki" Chance RT-52 much as they like. A Wiki is an shuttle bus line that runs between the analogous public space, but it's on the airport's terminals According to web. Cunningham, "I chose wiki-wiki as an alliterative substitute for 'quick' and Technical meaning thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web." "Wiki Wiki" is a A Wiki is a special type of website that reduplication of "wiki", a Hawaiian- allows the visitors themselves to easily language word for fast. . WikiWikiWeb add, remove, and otherwise edit and was the first of such software to be change available content. It is a set of called a wiki.The word wiki is a shorter web pages editable by anyone. No form of wiki wiki (weekie, weekie).The knowledge of computer programming word is sometimes interpreted as the is needed. Nor is it necessary to backronym for "what I know is", which access a web server to upload pages. describes the knowledge contribution, Every page in a Wiki can be amended, storage, and the exchange function. edited, or even deleted by anyone with a web browser. The term Wiki also can According to Cunningham, the idea of refer to the collaborative software 'Wiki' can be traced back to a itself (Wiki engine) that facilitates the HyperCard stack he wrote in the late operation of such a website or to 1980s. In the late 1990’s, wikis were certain specific Wiki sites, including the increasingly recognized as a promising computer science site (the original way to develop private and public Wiki) WikiWikiWeb and on-line knowledge bases,[citation needed] and encyclopedias such as Wikipedia. A this potential inspired the founders of Wiki enables documents to be written the Nupedia encyclopedia project, very collaboratively in a simple which later became Wikipedia. Source:
  5. 5. 5 PR –e- STIGE – Expert views Mr Kirubashankar, A popular blogger and podcaster, Chennai “In the traditional conferences, best discussions take place during breaks” (Kirubashankar is a pioneer in the concept of ‘Unconference and the brain behind the WikiCamp) through ‘paper wikis’. It runs on an An ‘Unconference’ is diametrically ‘auto pilot system’. opposite to how normal conferences are held. Four or five speakers sit on Downside is the stage. Four hundred or five that you trust hundred people sit in the audience. the speaker. Audience does not have time to There are pros interact or put questions. This is not and cons. the best method. In such conferences, Advantage is best discussions take place during that everybody Coffee break and lunch time. gets a chance. In an ‘Unconference’ there is no I would suggest a hybrid model. Best restriction. There is no speaker. The speakers may be selected in the speaker becomes the discussion normal course. In the normal leader. There is no audience. The conference, you can have two or three audience becomes participant. They hours of ‘Unconference’ and encourage are encouraged to express freely. The all the speakers to come and content is not set earlier. People come participate. You can have traditional and set the topic in the morning conference model and keep few rooms for Unconference also. Mr Gangadhar Bhadani. Sr Manager, Bank of India, Puducherry “Wiki helps the Corporates to increase the bottom-line and wealth” (Mr Bhadani (in mid 50s) is ranked as No 1 Wikipedian in India and in top 50 globally for his contribution / editing of thousands of articles in the Wikipedia) total of knowledge of all the people who are associated with the corporate. Nothing in the Wiki gets wiped out. It remains in the archives. It helps the Corporates to move towards ‘paperless office’. Wiki is the expression of team spirit. You are empowering the employees. It enables the Corporates to provide seamless flow of information to their stakeholders, who can participate in the discussions irrespective of time Primary benefit is that multiple users zone. can contribute for creation of an idea through the medium of Wiki. Wiki helps Corporates to increase the Corporates using one or more pages of bottom-line and wealth. Wiki gets the advantage of the sum . Podcast: You can listen to the views of Jimmy, Kiruba and Bhadani in the podcast at
  6. 6. 6 PR –e- STIGE – Expert views Mr J Murali, IT Professional and an eminent columnist “Wiki helps for collaborative content aggregation” Wiki is helpful for with intranet. Any idea for collaborative development or solution can be posted content in Wiki to enable others to edit and aggregation. It enrich further and further. (unlike can be useful along blogs) Please also read the articles written by J Murali in the following links: Wiki web: An on-line collaboration tool A Wiki site for your organisation A Squeak-based Wiki server (for advanced users) Wiki web: New frontiers Jotspot: Wiki next phase PR – e- Groups – Have you joined discussion groups? Image Management Group – Second largest yahoo group on PR with 1440 plus global members. Click here PRpoint Group - The largest Indian group for PR/CorpComm /academic professionals with 660 plus members. Click here New Media Forum Group – A group for Indian journalists with around 350 members. Click here India Vision Group – A group for Indian youth on India Vision 2020 with around 1200 members. Click here Please do not miss these sites
  7. 7. 7 PR –e- VENTS – India’s first ‘Unconference’ WikiCamp 2007 at Chennai India’s first and speakers were planned on the ‘Unconference’ same day morning. Whomsoever WikiCamp wanted to speak was asked to write on 2007 was held a ‘paper wiki’ and stick on the board. on 25th Feb 07 Though normally everybody would at Tidel Park, expect ‘chaos and confusion’, nothing Chennai. happened. Kudos to ‘Knowledge Around 350 Foundation’ who organised this event. enthusiasts across India The Unconference was announced and and outside participated. Jimmy participants registered through Wiki Wales, Founder of Wikipedia was the The star attraction. Jimmy, an volunteers made a booklet just on the International celebrity, who has previous day for distribution to the changed the way people use internet participants through this collaborative was simple and unassuming and tool. An ‘Unbook’ on ‘Unconference’ mingled with everybody without any was also initiated by Jimmy to create a ‘fuss’ (It was surprising contrast to book (Unbook) through Wiki, with those who used to see our ‘ego- multiple authors. centric’ Corporate CEOs and Senior officials). For more details contact Since it was ‘Unconference’, the topics WikiCamp 2007 – Some interesting snap shots Section of audience Big fight – Blog vs. Wiki Paper wikis on the board Proposed ‘Unbook’ Jimmy with young group WikiCamp booklet made on ‘Unconference’ – lying on the floor within half a day using ‘Wiki’
  8. 8. 8 PR eTTY - Relax – Be careful when you bill next time…..! A Software Engineer died suddenly, at "Hold on. Let the age of 45. me go and check," said the He reached the gates of Heaven, and angel, and the angel standing there said, "We've disappeared been waiting a long time for you." inside. "What do you mean?" he replied. "I'm After a few only 45, in the prime of my life. Why minutes the did I have to die now?" angel returned. "Sorry, but our "45? You're not 45, you're 82," replied records say you the angel. are 82. Looking at the number of hours you billed to "Wait a minute. If you think I'm 82, your client, you should be 82.....” then you have the wrong guy. I'm only 45. I can show you my birth Source : unknown certificate." PResentors of PReSENSE Chief Editor and Publisher: Editorial Board: K. Srinivasan (Prime Point) M M Selva Kumar, Sr. Web Consultant Satish N (Anna University) Consulting Editor: U ma G Editor: Editorial Advisors P A Narrendiran (Blue Lotus PR) T N Ashok (Corporate consultant) Arun Arora (GMR-DIAL) Associate Editors: Uma Bhushan (SIMSR) ) S. Sakthi Prasanna (Hanmer & R. Jai Krishna (Senior Journalist) Partners PR) Veena Vinod (Good Relations PR) Feedback and contributions to: All the earlier issues may be downloaded from Listen to India’s first pod-magazine one stop shop for podcasts on all subjects Do you want to subscribe to this ezine. Please click