Wales on Wikipedia

Friday night I hitched a ride down to the city with Mark and Linda to see Jimmy Wales give a Long Now talk on Wikipedia. I jotted down a few notes of interest:

  • the John Seigenthaler Sr. Wikipedia biography controversy in December 2005 caused traffic to triple
  • Wikipedia was a social (not a technological) innovation, as all the software necessary to make it run (database, webserver, web browser, wiki) had existed since 1995
  • Wales believes that Wikipedia works because there is a community of thoughtful users that contribute to it, not that it’s some example of a emergent hivemind, etc.
  • predominant paradigm in social software design: keep people in cages—but complex permission schemes prevent people from doing good
  • Wales’ job consists of battling against programmers: “we don’t algorithmatize against what we shouldn’t”

Afterwards we went out to Osha Thai Restaurant on 2nd Street, where Stephanie met up with us for some mind blowing green curry. The service not so. Afterwards: drinks and music at 111 Minna.

Update: Stewart Brand’s summary of Wales’ talk via the O’Reilly Radar.

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