Wikipedia: Internet's Greatest Gift to Humanity in these 10 yearsWikipedia will turn 10 years old on January 15, 2011. It is a successful proof of the Cognitive Surplus at work, where people around the world collaborated to make essential knowledge free for all of us to use, reaching across barriers of languages and differences of opinion.
In future, China will overtake the U.S. in the stakes of global supremacy. In terms of economic wealth, may be. But the fact remains the United States has been responsible for an impressive list of things that have taken humanity forward. Add Wikipedia to this list. Calling Wikipedia 'the internet's biggest and best example of not-for-profit idealism' Tomothy Garton Ash says, 'Wikipedia (is) a US pioneer of global civility'.
What is Wikipedia worth? Questions is, how shall we measure its worth? In terms of Google Adsense earnings? In terms of comparison with what Encyclopedia Britannica was worth at its peak? Both measures are inadequate. All we know is that Wikipedia has raised $16 million in 50 days (for servers and essential staff), which it will spend in a year.
$16 million/year is too low a price for making knowledge freely available for the whole world. Compare that, if you will, to the amount Indian taxpayers lost due to the non-functioning of the winter session of the Indian Parliament - Rs. 146 crores, or roughly $35 million. All that money wasted as our MPs refused to let the Parliament function, too busy calling each other names, among other sad things that they normally do.
The money Wikipedia raised this year also helps it run other Wikimedia projects, such as Wikiversity (the free university). The donations also help Wikipedia serve ad-free pages.
Talking about global reach, did you know English accounts for only one-fifth of Wikipedia's content? In September 2010 alone, Wikipedia had 400 million unique visitors. Wikipedia is the fifth most popular website in the world.
Did you also know that Wikipedia has had more than 1 billion edits, across 17.6 million articles, from 27 million users?
Rounding off this post with some more Wikipedia goodness:
10 Common Misconceptions Found on Wikipedia
Misconception: Men think about sex every seven seconds.
Reality: There's no scientific way of measuring one's sexual thoughts, and if anything, researchers believe that statistic is a gross overstatement. Not that men would ever exaggerate anything related to sex.
Misconception: The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object on Earth that's visible from the moon.
Reality: Apollo astronauts claim to have never seen any man-made Earth objects from outer space. Except, maybe, Coco.