I’ve always had my doubts about the reliability of Wikipedia. I don’t have any doubts about their chief Jimmy Wales anymore.
According to Tech.Blorge.com Wales said the app store model is a bigger threat to Internet freedom than net neutrality violations. He made the statements while at an event in Bristol, England in the week of Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary.
Wales explained that systems like the iTunes App Store can act as a “chokepoint that is very dangerous.” He also said it’s time to ask if the design is “a threat to a diverse and open ecosystem” and argued that “we own [a] device, and we should control it.”
Wales’ statements show that he still has a much different philosophy than the majority of his Internet business peers.
So far, Wales has done a lot to stick to his stated goal of making all of the world’s information available for free in an encyclopedia that’s in every language.
Sure, Wales is a businessman who has a financial stake in Wikipedia. But his quest of bringing so much information to people free of charge is still a noble cause, even if he makes himself wealthy in process.
Cleary, Wales is a different type of businessman in a rapidly evolving age.
And he’s actually critical of the service his organization provides, instead of being in a state of constant amazement like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
For example, Wales opined that university students should not be citing Wikipedia in essays and dissertations – or for that matter, any encyclopedia.
Wales’ recent statements prove that he is concerned with the quality of Wikipedia’s content. He said it should be “[Encyclopedia] Britannica or better.”
But more importantly he proved that he is a business leader in the Internet industry who actually understands some of the most important issues in technology.
While I think it’s debateable whether the app store model is more pressing than the net neutraility issue, I think we could all agree that both issues are part of the larger issue, censorship.
Internet censorship, and the various other forms it takes, is the biggest issue in technology. But the issue is does not just impact the technology sector, the neutrality of the Internet is important in virtually every discipline that has a need to share information.
Jimmy Wales is smart enough to recognize that the way the Internet is currently set up puts too much power in the hands of giant computer, telecommunications and media companies, companies that can for all intents and purposes control the information and programs their customers use on their computers.
Many people would consider Wales to be another Internet businessman, but based on his behavior I’m pretty certain Wales does have a business ethos that is more complex than simply “making fat stacks.”
I think Wales is an influential businessman who truly believes in the idealized concept of a free and open Internet. He seems to be just the kind of capitalist we need for a new age where information is fighting to have just as much value as central bank issued currency.
Wales sounds like he is an open-source type of guy who wants to work within the realm of emerging technology instead of fighting against it for strict business purposes. We need more creative business minds in media who can work with new information technology instead of the usual group (Apple, Microsoft, MPAA, etc.) who fight technology and try to control innovation with inefficient copyright laws.
People should be using technology to increase the productivity of man, not to control people’s actions and the information they can access.