Ericsson Middle East and Africa hosted Change Makers Forum 2016, an exclusive gathering of movers and shakers who’ve initiated change in their respective fields. The theme, “Turning Change into Growth”, was brought to life by A-list speakers to include Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, Magnus Olsson, Co-founder and CEO of Careem, and Ari Kesisoglu, Regional Director Africa, Middle East and Turkey at Facebook. The full day event was packed with brilliant keynotes and inspiring panel discussions that highlighted Ericcson’s five key trends for technological growth; artificial intelligence, virtual reality, connected homes, mobile adaptation and the networked society. I had the pleasure of sitting across from Jimmy Wales in a round table discussion that delved further into his presentation on the power of social media. Here are highlights and important take-aways from that conversation…

Change_Makers_forum

Packed house for Change Makers Forum 2016

What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia curated by he community – a community that polices itself for accuracy. Wikipedia is not a for-profit business. It’s a foundation that will celebrate its 15th anniversary on January 15, 2016.

Who contributes to Wikipedia?

Wikipedia contributors are 87% male, have an average age of 26 and double percent of PhDs.

Is the information on Wikipedia quality controlled?

Yes. The writing community polices itself. There are “community volunteers” who review and inspect information for accuracy. For example, there’s Wiki Project Medicine which performs quality control on medical information added to Wikipedia. One of their most notable contributions was a page dedicated to informing about Ebola at the height of the crisis. The information was kept accurate and eventually translated into more than 100 languages. Wales noted that he wants Wikipedia to be neutral, “…a place where you can hear all sides of the story…”, and listed the basic principles of the site as being free licensing, respect for copyright, no plagiarism, civility and no formal rules.

What are the unique characteristics of Wikipedia in this region?

Arabic wiki has 403,743 entries making it the #20 most contributed language. There are hundreds of active Arabic editors and the number of Arabic translations is increasing. However, censorship and filtering is a challenge in the region that affects Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE.

How does Wikipedia give back to the community?

Wikipedia Zero is a program implemented in developing countries to give school aged children free access to Wikipedia. How do they do it? By partnering with local telecommunications companies, they are able to connect many to the vast world of information that exists on Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales was a personable and engaging speaker who imparted valuable information on his audience. He was transparent and honest about his company and his views for the future. He spoke candidly when asked about Wikipedia’s status in China, which is still a work in progress. He talked about privacy and the need for increased Internet security and the use of encryption. Wales, is continuing to grow Wikipedia alongside his newest venture, Wikia, which he describes as a social universe for fans, by fans. Wikia is currently ranked the #18 website on the Internet.

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