Happy birthday Wikipedia!
Mike Linksvayer, January 15th, 2009
Wikipedia began 8 years ago today and now exists in 265(!) languages with over 10 million articles among them. In those 8 years Wikipedia has grown from an outlandish dream and into a reality far more outlandish than the original dream — it now seems silly to compare Wikipedia to past encyclopedias, for while Wikipedia and sibling sites run by the Wikimedia Foundation are encylopedic in nature, they are 1,000 times more useful than anything previously conceived as an encyclopedia. Happy birthday and congratulations!
Almost exactly 1 year and 11 months after the birth of Wikipedia, Creative Commons launched. As many know, a process is underway that may result in Wikipedia migrating to CC BY-SA as its main license, which would be a great thing for the growth of free culture. However, see Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ letter in support of CC’s recently ended annual fundraising campaign for other connections. And day to day, media under appropriate CC licenses is being utilized by Wikipedians — who for example immediately began using video and stills from the Al Jazeera CC repository launched just two days ago.
Here’s to many more years of free culture!
For context, we celebrated Mozilla’s 10th birthday last April and the GNU project’s 25th last September. It’s very difficult to draw comparisons, but the longevity of the free software movement and the relatively recent massive success of Wikipedia should inspire and humble the rest of the free culture and related movements.