Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.
Another presenter who is challenged by presenting ‘in the round’!
Seeing a massive change in the quality and quantity of informal learning. Talk about the dream of free knowledge for everyone. Free access to the sum of all human knowledge.
What is free access? Free as in speech, not as in beer. Something more fundamental. Free to redistribute and re-use all of Wikipedia.
What is the sum of all human knowledge? Wikipedia is not an archive or library, nor a textbook, can be an adjunct to a textbook. Not designed to lead you through the learning. Not Youtube, no funny cat videos, try to keep things serious. Encyclopedia offers a summary of human knowledge.
Joked about being sick of seeing his face on the website calling for donations to the charity. Around 50 employees and a budget of $21million. It’s the 100,000 contributors who make it happen. All design and content is done by the community.
16 million articles across 270 languages. 199 languages have at least 1000 articles. Over a million in English German and French. Abandoned China for 3 years due to censorship. But was made accessible again around the Olympics, just with certain pages e.g. Taiwan, Tianneman being filtered. But only ranked around no.50 in China as a website.
Showed some funny Chinese menus translated into English and ended up with Stir Fried Wikipedia, probably due to it being first entry for every search on the internet:
Global content comparisons using a graph of % of page hits for the top 100 topics: Similar written content across countries. But readers vary more. Japanese love searching for pop culture. Germans most interested in Geography! Sex very popular except in France and Spain - because they are actually having sex while the rest of us just read it on the Internet!
Wikipedia has 408 million unique visitors (per how long?).
Who is writing Wikipedia? Important to know for young people as it is such a dominant source of information for young people.
- 87% male. Too many computer geeks! Want to simplify the editing interface. Excluding women but also elderly and other less confident users.
- Average age 26.
- Double % PhDs – geekier crowd than normal
- People at the intersection between intelligence, obsession and free time!
- Invitation is in the edit button to allow people to take part – nice quote from a ‘user’ in a video Jimmy showed
What is beyond the encyclopedia? Encyclopedia is just the start.
Library is much much bigger. Wikia is Jimmy’s next project to take over the rest of the library. Place for people to dig deeply into, used example of comparing the entries for Twilight the novel. No need for the ‘source’ in Wikia, more opinions and discussions. Went on to talk about Lostpedia, which was created on Wikia to write about Lost the TV programme. Believe that the writers took great inspiration from the fans documenting it, the show was something of a wiki in it’s self.
Jimmy’s final point: How can we get the learners involved in the creation of their learning?
As big a sales pitch as some other talks today, but enthralling. If only because of the influence it has on our learners, it’s so often their number one source. Who needs to know the dates of Kings & Queens when it’s a search away?
Final questions with Jimmy, Lord Puttnam & Graham:
Good point in the questions that the whole idea of Wikipedia was seen as complete madness beforehand. Which feeds into the ideas from Stephen & Lord Puttnam of this next multi-billion making innovation potentially being in the sphere of learning. Lord Puttnam later added that he thought that great innovation would stem from the games industry.
Great anecdote from Lord Puttnam about someone challenging a member of parliament in parliament as they searched on their phone about a speech from the week before and pointed out that what they were saying was not true and that they were contradicting themselves. Something that happens more and more in the classroom.
Great question asked of Jimmy as to whether a step by step learning based wiki could be built that would transform free education with a crowd sourced curriculum. The foundation have tried a variation with wiki-books but it has struggled as software not suited to assessment etc.. But also problems with fragmented educational standards. One of the big things that inspire people to take part is that they know someone will use their contribution. Jimmy thinks that people would feel that schools couldn’t use their content in the classroom -I’d disagree with this quite strongly. So many of us blog about our teaching BECAUSE we hope someone else might find it useful in their classroom. However he does think it should be possible.
Final question was about what 3 things you’d have in a new school. Lord Puttnam points out that it’s easy to do great things in a school but it’s really difficult to scale to every school. Jimmy would want to see increased teaching of media competence and the ability to assess the quality of a source of information, in context of Wikipedia – how do you use it as a starting point to go deeper into a topic. Fantastic point to finish on.
And that’s it – battery nearly flat on the laptop, and internal batteries exhausted – interesting day of live blogging, will read back later and see if there was any quality to it or if I just missed the salient points through distraction!