Wikipedia Founder Advocates for Power of Social Media, Democracy

Jimmy Wales spoke recently, forewarning governments to take an in-depth look at how technology and social media is affecting people's lives -- and to not over-regulate.

by Rohma Sadaqat, Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates / January 12, 2016
Wikipedia Co-Founder, Jimmy Wales Wikicommons

(TNS) -- Governments around the world should invest more to understand technology and how people are using it, before regulating industry to ensure that people are safe online, says Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Speaking at the Ericsson Change-Makers Forum, Wales talked about a number of issues in his presentation on 'Harnessing the power of social media and democracy and the Internet'.

The Wikipedia founder discussed the power of social media and how open-source and open-content technology is affecting the traditional business models. He also highlighted how businesses need to interact with their customers, distributors and suppliers in the future to embrace the change in the society.

"Social media is changing the world. Everybody knows that a lot of the change is noisy and distracting, but at Wikipedia we have noticed a shift towards reasoned discourse. One of the great things about Wikipedia is that it is not the place you turn to, to find random people yelling at each other with their obnoxious opinions; we have a really good community that tries really hard to get things right," Wales said.

"We try to create a thoughtful place to document the facts of the world in a mature and careful way. The original vision for Wikipedia is that we want to imagine a world where every single person on this planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. We have been running for 15 years now and our community has created more than 36 million articles. We now have over 400 million unique visitors every month, and Wikipedia is now available in 288 languages," he highlighted.

Speaking on Arabic Wikipedia, Wales said that Arabic Wikipedia is one of the largest with over 400,000 entries.

"We have hundreds of active editors, and recently we have had a trend of very active editors."

Highlighting the growing trend of mobile in the developing world, Wales said: "For me, this is one of the most important trends; probably the most important trend in our global human society because it is going to be transformative in ways that we can't even contemplate yet. Internet use in developing countries is increasing at a rate that is faster than any prediction we have ever made, and the reason for this is bandwidth."

Wales also disclosed that the total bandwidth into Africa is increasing and that wholesale broadband prices are coming down. Broadband, he said, is working its way into data plans, and into mobile data plans.

"All this will have an incredible impact on culture, politics, education, and healthcare as people come to have greater understanding of the world, and are able to make better informed decisions. Carriers now need to plan how they can provide Internet access to millions of people across developing countries today."

©2016 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.