Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia speaks
during a seminar on youth marketing in Africa
in Lagos, Nigeria,Tuesday, March. 27, 2012.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia speaks during a seminar on youth marketing in Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, March. 27, 2012. The man who helped found Wikipedia says the end of the printing of the Encyclopaedia Britannica signals a new beginning for reference materials online.
Wales' first visit to Nigeria also highlighted the growth of other languages besides English on Wikipedia, particularly the Yoruba language of Nigeria’s southwest. While growth remains slow and uneven, Wales said he hopes more users for the community-edited website will begin offering new articles as creation on the English version has slowed as it now has nearly 4 million entries.
"I'm an optimist about the Internet as a force for preserving culture, while at the same time increasing global culture. I don't think we have to have either/or," Wales told The Associated Press in an interview in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.
Wikipedia's popularity remains high among Internet users as print resources continue to suffer. This month, [March 2012] the owners of Encyclopaedia Britannica, published since 1768, announced its print edition will stop being available when its current stock runs out.
"It's the culmination of a very, very long trend. In a way, it's a sad moment, but it's the way technology moves on," Wales said. "Even if we think Britannica is what we want, we really want Britannica on an iPad or a phone, accessible to us all the time, not in dusty books on the shelf - no matter how beautiful those might be."
Wales acknowledges the limits of Wikipedia; a website he said is edited by a user base that's 87 percent male, with an average age of 26. He said he hopes a simplified editing process will allow the reference site to attract a more diverse range of contributors with knowledge in a variety of fields.
In Africa, Wales said that the Yoruba language of Nigeria's southwest, including Lagos, led the continent in actual pages in its own version of Wikipedia with more than 29,000 pages. However, the majority of those articles came from "bots" - programs designed to take data from a table and create a simple Wikipedia entry. Detailed entries remain far fewer, as there appears to be one dominant user creating the Yoruba entries, he said.
SOURCE: Associated Press
SOURCE: Associated Press