Wikipedia, which is one of the ten most visited websites, shows how volunteers can collaborate online to provide superb information and knowledge to the world. Like Wikipedia, Atlantic Community connects experts and citizens to create a public forum for the spread of knowledge and ideas. While Wikipedia prides itself on being a neutral source for learning about the world, Atlantic Community presents a variety of perspectives as well as develops solutions to issues in foreign policy.
Jimmy Wales is optimistic that citizens can not only create a top encyclopedia, but also collaborate online on finding solutions to global problems, like UN reform. Atlantic-community.org hopes to be the citizen's think tank for this endeavor. Wales commented how essential it is to have networks that allow people to connect with one another, “Having communities where people are working on solutions in a thoughtful, respectful, and responsible way is very important.”
It is important to incorporate the entire spectrum of opinions in online communities, not just the extreme views. He noted that often the loudest and most obnoxious voices are the ones that get heard, which deters less radical individuals from joining the conversation.
The key is to reach a balance between total anarchy and over-moderation in online discussion forums. There also need to be ground rules for debate that include respecting others and refraining from personal attacks.
The power of collective intelligence will be seen more and more as people find innovative approaches to use technology to find solutions to the world’s problems. Wales points out that, “The greatest software in the world doesn’t work unless you have certain moral standards and norms within the community.” He concludes, “We always want to focus on the future and how to make things better.”
Jimmy Wales is the founder of Wikipedia and Chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation. The organization hopes to build upon its charitable work by improving its service in languages that are found in the developing world. Wales also runs the Wikia organization, a network of Wikis, which expanded its European reach last month after acquiring Germany’s largest Wiki, “Website Wiki.”
This interview was conducted by Joerg Wolf, Editor-in-Chief of atlantic-community.org, at the DLD Conference in Munich on January 24, 2010.
Related Material from Atlantic Community:
- Johannes Bohnen: Collective Intelligence and the Future of Decision Making
- Interview with Jeff Jarvis: Social Media Challenges International Organizations
- Interview with David Kirkpatrick: The Internet Revolutionizes Politics