Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia @ 10 talk in Bristol

Event      :  Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia@10 Talk in Bristol
Venue     :  Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol
Sponsors:  University of Bristol, Bristol City Council, HP Labs Bristol,
                Wikimedia UK, Bristol Festival Ideas
Host       :  Professor Guy Orpen,
                 Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research & Enterprise, University of Bristol

Yup!  Jimmy Wales, co-founder and promoter of Wikipedia came to town today and I was there to hear him talk about the development and future of Wikipedia.  I consider myself very-very lucky indeed :).

How was the man with "the stare", you ask?  Well, he was a very down-to-earth guy who delighted us at many points of the presentation with his anecdotes.

"Legend of the modern age? You will all be disappointed now..."
Not really, Jimbo :)

 As expected, he talked about what Wikipedia was all about: some, we pretty much know, but didn't mind listening to anyway; others were facts that would have made interesting trivia on a rainy day :):

*    ranked as the 5th most popular website in the world
*    attracted 400 million visitors
*    ran by only 50 staff but supported by thousands of editor-volunteers
*    87% of Wikipedians are predominantly "tech-geek" males with the average age of 26
*    PhD holders are double the general public contributors (Wow!)
*    ran on a 20 million dollar budget
*    6 million articles published to date
*   can be found in 270 languages

Although the English Wikipedia is the largest version, it's 3 million articles make up only 20% of the total articles in Wikipedia and the percentage keeps on dropping. 

"Anyone can reuse or repurpose anything that they want..."

Free access is "more than just the cost of  Wikipedia". According to Jim (not referring to that Jim Belushi's sitcom btw, heheh!), everything in Wikipedia (software, all the texts, most of the images) is licensed in such a way that one is allowed to copy, modify, redistribute and to redistribute modified versions, commercially and non-commercially.

The answer for the above question?  A concise summary of everything in the world; clear and basic information that anyone can come and learn whatever they want to know.

Menu in Beijing - cultural impact of Wikipedia in China
Yeah, Wikipedia even managed to penetrate the Great Wall of China after being completely banned and blocked for about 3 years.  But of course, certain pages are still off-limits...
How does the content compare across the languages?  There are differences in what people are reading in each language. For example, the Japanese are into pop culture while the Germans dig geography.  

From Encyclopedia to Wikipedia and now Wikia.  What is that???

It takes specific topics and go really deep - deeper than the living encyclopedia.  It promotes a participatory culture (beyond collaboration??), moving from broadcast to interactive media... 

Heck I'm noWikipedia!  Go Google! :P

Most awaited statement:
Jimmy does not agree students citing wikipedia in their academic writing but supports its use as a resource for a quick introduction and background knowledge. 

His view that is also my aspiration:
... That university academics as they mature in their career, view their roles in society broadly, not just teaching,  researching, innovating and learning new things, expanding the knowledge of the world, but also as  public intellectuals, contributing in a positive way to the world.

My favourite Jimbo quote
"sometimes we don't have a lot of free time, but we make it somehow..."
... Like writing this post now when I should really be reading those journal articles :P

What a guy!  Watch Jimmy Wales @ Bristol at this link.  Enjoy! :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Call: 2011 and beyond

How time flies...  Bye bye 2010, Hello 2011!  Looking back, 2010 was a tumultuous year, well, at least for me.  Juxtaposed (by choice :P) to a foreign land, I was overwhelmed by a lot of things.  I was exposed to a new culture and its people, new ways of learning and thinking... Scary at times, but eye-opening most of the time.  And if that's not enough, I was struggling with multiple responsibilities.  I may be a full-time student but in-reality, I'm a part-time student, full-time mother and wife.  Spoilt by my maid and my mum, my learning curve was quite high :). 

Looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way, though.  I chose this road (and dragged my family with me too).  Looking around me, I do consider myself lucky as the important people in my life (my supervisor, included:)) are still with me.  My quest is far from over and God willing I'll persevere.  What better song to be my 'battle' anthem (2011 and beyond) than Regina Spektor's "The Call" (theme song from "The Chronicles of Narnia:  Prince Caspian").  Here's to hope and faith.  Happy New Year everybody!!!