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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 23, 2011

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to lecture at UI

Jimmy Wales might not be a household name, but if you’ve ever used an Internet search engine, his impact on the cyberworld is usually found on the first page of returns.

Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, will present a lecture titled “Democracy and the Internet” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus. Wales’s appearance is presented by the UI Lecture Committee through the Spring 2011 F. Wendell Miller Fund. It is free and open to the public.

The origins of Wikipedia, an international, collaborative free-content encyclopedia on the Internet, began in March 2000, when Wales started Nupedia "the free encyclopedia", which was characterized by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed “Wikipedia.” Wales laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year.

The success of the project has helped popularize a trend in web development (called Web 2.0) that aims to facilitate creativity, collaboration and sharing among users. As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Wales took on the role of the project's spokesperson and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances.

His work with Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted TIME Magazine to name him one of its 100 Most Influential People, in 2006 in the Scientists and Thinkers category. As of Monday, Feb. 21, the English Wikipedia has 3,564,535 articles and 23,299,463 pages in total. Overall, there are more than 91,000 active contributors working on more than 17,000,000 articles in more than 270 languages.

The World Economic Forum recognized Wales as one of the “Young Global Leaders” of 2007. This prestigious award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders across the world for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society, and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

Wales is a Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. He serves on the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses and the nonprofit organization Creative Commons. He received his bachelor's degree in finance from Auburn University and started with the Ph.D. finance program at the University of Alabama, where he left with a master's degree. From 1994 to 2000, Wales was the research director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago.

For more information on the UI Lecture Committee, see

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Zakir Durumeric, University Lecture Committee, 319-384-3535,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,