A teacher recently asked a team of students whether they had used an Encyclopedia for their project. Their response: "What's that? Is it like Wikipedia?"
For Jimmy Wales, the founder and CEO of Wikipedia, stories like this are striking – if not also inspiring. “Think of 18-year-olds today: Wikipedia has existed since they learned how to read,” Wales shared with the crowd at BETT 2015. Since Wikipedia's founding, it has also grown to more than 288 languages. It is because of this growth that Wales also feels an increased responsibility to both inform, and teach people around the world how to use the tool in responsible ways.
In Wales' keynote, he highlighted the symbiotic interplay of both the challenges and the opportunities he sees in the years ahead. “The rising 'data middle class' is going to have a transformative impact globally. In Nigeria, for example, just 0.1% of the country was online in 2001. As of 2013, they are over 30%.” According to him, this will impact content and understanding in every country with public access to internet resources.
At the same time, Wales stressed that, “knowledge is a product of a complex set of interactions in society,” and when you have 70,000 volunteers curating pieces, it provides an interesting set of challenges both in content creation and consumption. Sourcing and tone neutrality, particularly, are areas that Wales believes to be critical to maintaining the integrity of one of the world's largest open databases in the years ahead.
Missing out on attending BETT 2015 this year? Check the Prezi EDU Blog for daily recaps and highlights!