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The birth of Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales on TED.com

For the next two weeks, while TED’s media team takes a much needed vacation, we will not be posting a new TEDTalk daily. However, to sate the appetites of our loyal viewers, we will be highlighting some of the choicest gems from our online archives. Over the next couple of weeks, expect to see talks you never knew existed, but you’ve always wanted to see.

We begin the week with Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia. Wikipedia began in 2001, and what started as a tiny and dubiously optimistic site is now a household name. At its inception, and for years to follow, this constantly changing encyclopedia written entirely by volunteers was a radical and inconceivable venture. Today, it’s quite possibly the largest reference website there is, attracting around 65 million visitors monthly. Wikipedia is available in Dutch, Esperanto, Hebrew, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic and Hungarian — in fact, in 250 languages in all. Through the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia has started a virtual movement that incorporates Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks, Wikiversity, Wikinews, Wikiquote, and Wikispecies.

In this talk from 2005, let co-founder Jimmy Wales take you back to a time when Wikipedia was just gaining true momentum with the general public. Recall the debates that took place in the mass media and mini-scandals that were created around the site. As Wales delves into the organizational mechanics of creating content through tens of thousands of volunteers, the talk also becomes a valuable reminder of the huge efforts that go on behind the scenes. Remind yourself of the work and initiative that goes into the site so many of us consult first to answer all the little questions that pop into our heads, to settle debates among friends, and maybe even to find a community of like-minded individuals who want to write the never-ending encyclopedia, together.

Twitter URL: http://on.ted.com/2H

Watch Jimmy Wale’s talk on TED.com where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 475+ TEDTalks.

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