Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why did Jimmy Wales start Wikipedia?

I was reading the book 'Zen Garden - Conversations with Pathmakers'  by Subroto Bagchi. In the book, the  author asks eminent personalities to share their strengths, unique experiences, and thoughts on success.
One interview is with Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia. It is well known that Jimmy Wales studied in a one-room school run by his mother and grandmother. And this room was stocked with encyclopedias that laid the foundation for Jimmy's interest in such information.
However, there was another personal event that deeply affected Jimmy Wales and acted as a catalyst for the formation of Wikipedia. Jimmy's daughter Kira was born with a severe lung incapacity that leads to breathing problems. There was no cure for this lung problem. There was a doctor who was using a peculiar method to cure the problem but the outcome of the procedure was not time tested or conclusively proven.

So, parents who took their children had to make a call. The procedure required the child to be paralysed for a few moments and it would be repeated a number of times before the child's lungs began to function normally again.

Left with no other options, Jimmy Wales agreed to that procedure for his daughter. The doctor turned Kira upside down four times, when her entire system stopped and the lungs cleaned. At the end of the process, Kira breathed and became perfectly normal.

Jimmy Wales was thankful. But what irked him was that the life-saving knowledge that the doctor had was not known to other doctors in the world. So, Jimmy felt that there has to be a way by which such critical knowledge can be shared with the world and benefit millions. This event led to the formation of Nupedia which eventually evolved into Wikipedia.

Bagchi ends the article with a note that "Great public efforts are often rooted in deeply personal experiences and sometimes very private feelings."

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing  ~ Jimmy Wales

No comments: