Wikipedia founder rewards volunteers
By Dimitri Bruyas, Special to The China Post, with CNA
August 6, 2007, 12:00 am TWN
Jimmy Wales, founder of the popular free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, lauded the participants of the third Taipei Wikimania for their contribution to the "free culture movement," during the closing ceremony of the event yesterday afternoon.
Wikipedia is actually the largest and most visible part of the "free culture movement," according to Heather Ford of iComments.
Yet, "It is still difficult to find volunteers to get involved in a project like Wikipedia," said Cary Bass, head of the volunteer coordination at Wikipedia.
Wales rewarded some outstanding young volunteers, like Guillaume Paumier from France, who received an award for his contribution to Wikipedia during the last French Presidential election.
Wales then suggested Wikipedia should try to join forces with other organizations of the free culture movement in the future.
"We are going to create Wiki Academies, to coordinate the movement of free culture," Wales said. "From now on until next year, we are going to organize at least fifty 'parties' in order to bring people who usually do not join these kinds of activities, and try to work altogether on Wikipedia."
Meanwhile, a Japanese Internet entrepreneur said during the occasion in the Internet age, the idea of a "sharing economy" will impact the traditional market economy, and a group of amateurs will be able to do phenomenal things by collaborating with one another.
"The market economy basically tells people to make as much money as possible, but not everything evolves around making money," Joichi Ito, a Japanese-born, American-educated activist, entrepreneur and venture capitalist, told around 400 participants of the annual Wikimedia conference.
The evolution of the Internet has changed the ways people live as well as their perspectives, he said, pointing out that the importance of "happiness, which comes from compassion of giving and receiving," instead of money, matters more to people nowadays.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia, a collaboration by a community of so-called amateur contributors all over the world, is a good example, he said. It provides for the needs of some, who have no current means with which to reciprocate: a characteristic of a sharing economy.
As much as everyone likes to share good things with others, Wikipedia has also given rise to the piracy issue, and despite efforts to stamp it out, illegal reproduction and downloads still exist.
Commercial companies should learn to view things from a different perspective in the light of an ethic of sharing, Ito claimed. For example, he said, a video remix about politics using various television news clips should be considered a "new means of practicing free speech."
Ito, chairman of the board of Creative Commons (CC), also talked about new forms of copyright that the non-profit organization advocates.
"You give away some rights while still remaining the copyright holder," he said.
CC is devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others to legally build upon and share. It has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses which, depending on the one chosen, restrict only certain rights (or none) of the work.
CC and Wikimedia are both part of the Free Culture movement, a social movement that calls for the freedom to use the Internet and other media to distribute and modify creative works, including software.