Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Jimmy Wales and the Future of the Democratic Internet



This morning it was treat to have Jimmy Wales speak at the ibreakfast. Alan Brody, and I am not really sure how he does this, was able to wrangle Jimmy in for a speech about his new venture Wikia.com and his views about the evolution of the internet.

Choosing not to focus on his past venture (wikipedia.org - the 6th most viewed website in the world according to Alan Deutschman in his article on Wales in the April 2007 issue of Fast Company), Wales instead set his aims on what he envisions as the next frontier - Wikia.

He explained the concept by comparing wikipedia and wikia to an encyclopedia and a library. One is concise and to the point (wikipedia) while a library has much more volume and therefore even more knowledge. Through example it was showed that fans of the Muppets only have 300 articles posted on wikipedia while in wikia there are over 14,000 (and counting fast).

Wikia is met to be a definitive comprehensible forum. Communities form around topics of interest, much like social networking, however the difference is that these communities occupy their time archiving information that is for the most part so obscure that a commercial release of this information (in the form of a book or magazine article) would be economically unfeasible.

He hinted that Search results have become for the most part too ad driven to be of total relevance. Wales notes that while the big boys at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo scramble for market share, it has created a void whereby "good quality search is in the realm of small companies". To make good on this goal Wikia has hired Jeremie Miller, creator of Jabber an OS IM XMPP messaging protocol (forgive me if I slip on these tech terms).

In the next year we should look out for an Wales describe "terrible version of Wikia Search." But again he noted that at first wikipedia billed itself as the "sum of human knowledge", even though there were only seven articles originally published before it took off.

Wales is a visionary and thats why he does so well. Of course only time will tell how his new company will serve the general public. Until it is proven thus, Wales intends on making wikia the "world's largest sustainable free-content, user controlled media (company)".

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