December 04, 2007

The Red Cross of Information: Wikimedia

_mg_9788 This is the first of several posts from Wikimedia founder Jimmy Wales' keynote at Online Information Conference, London.

Charles Van Doren, in 1962, said: "The ideal encyclopedia should be radical. It should stop being safe."

About 40 years later it's costing about $1m last year, $2-3m this year, to run Wikimedia, a tiny financial drop in the ocean when you consider the impact that its encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has had: it's the 8th most popular site in the world (even in Iran, not the first country to come to mind for the freedom of its information, it comes in at 14). And the best thing: all of this comes from tiny donations, the biggest ones generally amounting to no more than $50-$100 from any one individual. Literally, little pieces loosely joined.

What is free access?
Free access is, in the sense outlined by Richard Stallman, based on four freedoms:

  • freedom to copy
  • freedom to modify
  • freedom to redistribute
  • freedom to redistribute modified versions

and all of this commercially or for the common good.

This all comes from the GNU FDL type licencing, yet most of the other 'free' culture movement platforms (like Flickr, for example) come under the Creative Commons scheme.

Soon, Wikipedia will be licenced under the as yet unpublished new GNU FDL licence, whereby Wikipedia can be relicenced under the Creative Commons Share and Sharealike scheme. This should mean an easier linkage between all these sources of 'free' information, and maybe make clearer the similarities, and distinctions, between what constitutes 'free'.


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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