Freedom of speech, human rights, and free culture
Thursday July 17, 2008
Jimmy Wales is an Internet entrepreneur and wiki enthusiast, and founder of the Wikipedia project.
Jimmy was born in Huntsville, Alabama in 1966, and is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of Alabama. He worked as Research Director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm then located in Chicago. In the mid-1990s he started Bomis, a search portal focusing on aspects of pop culture, one of the first users of the freely licensed data of the Open Directory Project.
In 1999, Jimmy had the concept of a freely distributable encyclopedia and founded Nupedia, by hiring philosopher Larry Sanger as editor-in-chief and assigning two programmers to write software for it. Nupedia failed, perhaps due to being a top-down cathedral model, as opposed to Wikipedia, which is the ultimate bazaar. After two years of working with the Nupedia concept, that team opened Wikipedia to help channel content into Nupedia; Wikipedia became an instant success, but not in the envisioned way, and Nupedia was shut down. In 2003, Jimmy set up the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization, to support Wikipedia and its sister projects.
In 2004, Jimmy founded Wikia. He was appointed a fellow of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society in mid-2005, and in October of 2005 joined the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.