We asked Jimmy Wales to comment on his current work and ideas that have influenced him. Jimmy Wales speaks on 13 January in a special festival event.
Which of your own ideas have you been thinking about most recently?
I have been giving a great deal of thought to the “apps” ecosystem for iPhones, iPads, Android, etc. How does it impact the Internet more broadly? What does it hold for the future? I don’t have any answers, but I have been thinking about it a lot.
What idea of someone else has made most impact on you recently?
I have been reading The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. He has a new take on the age old questions of nature versus nurture, heredity versus environment, that I have found quite interesting.
What is the most important book/article/website of ideas that everyone should read and why?
There is not just one! It very much depends on the individual and their interests. A website or book or article that I would find useful and interesting would perhaps be old news to someone else.
In 1910 Charles Masterman asked ‘What will the future make of the present?’ What do you think people in the future will make of the present?
I’m sure it will be more or less the same, speaking philosophically, as what we make of 1910. They will be surprised at how clever we were. They will be surprised at how stupid we were.
What are you most pessimistic about?
As a pathological optimist, I’m pretty much never pessimistic about anything. This just the way I am, and I’ve decided there’s nothing much I can do about it.
What are you most optimistic about?
I think that the growth of the Internet in the developing world is going to bring about an amazing transformation there in the next 20 years.
Who are your heroes?
I have many, but I can sum it up: my hero is anyone who chooses to think.
Jimmy Wales is an American Internet entrepreneur and a co-founder and promoter of Wikipedia. Following graduation he and two partners founded Bomis, a web portal that targeted males, and which hosted, and provided the initial funding for, the peer-reviewed encyclopedia Nupedia (2000-2003) and its successor, Wikipedia. In 2001, together with Larry Sanger and others, Wales helped launch Wikipedia, a free, open content encyclopedia which enjoyed rapid growth and popularity. He describes himself as an Objectivist and, with reservations, a libertarian. His role in creating Wikipedia, which has become the world’s largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of the world’s most influential people.