wiki

Rewriting history: first Wikipedia edit to be sold as an NFT – Christie’s

Summary

‘Hello, World!’ was the first edit Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales made to the site’s homepage after launching it on 15 January 2001. Since then the online encyclopaedia has become the internet’s largest repository of free information. It is published in more than 300 languages, edited by thousands of volunteers and read by millions of knowledge-seekers.

When he sent out his global greeting 20 years ago did Wales ever imagine it would end up re…….

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‘Hello, World!’ was the first edit Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales made to the site’s homepage after launching it on 15 January 2001. Since then the online encyclopaedia has become the internet’s largest repository of free information. It is published in more than 300 languages, edited by thousands of volunteers and read by millions of knowledge-seekers.

When he sent out his global greeting 20 years ago did Wales ever imagine it would end up reaching that many people? ‘I always say I’m a pathological optimist,’ he admits. ‘I thought if we did a really good job we might be a top-100 or top-50 website, but I didn’t really know that we would have this really fundamental impact.’ He needn’t have worried: it has been consistently in the world’s top 10 most-visited websites for years.

Anyone searching the internet today to learn about any given topic will likely be directed to one of the 6,408,480 Wikipedia articles currently online. The site recorded an average of 228 million daily visitors last month, and each person read for an average of nearly four minutes (as anyone who has fallen down a Wiki rabbit hole can attest, time can fly by).

Institutions such as New York’s Museum of Modern art include excerpts of Wikipedia entries about artists on their websites, and an annual Art+Feminism edit-a-thon is held each March to correct perceived biases and create content about artists who are under-represented on grounds of race, gender or sexuality.

It even inspired the artist Michael Mandiberg to undertake the Sisyphean task of turning its content into a physical reference work for his 2015 art project Print Wikipedia. Mandiberg only made 106 volumes, each of 700 pages, as it would have taken an estimated 7,500 to document the whole site, and would take many more now.

So how did it all start? Wikipedia was in fact the second online encyclopaedia Wales tried to get off the ground. The first was Nupedia, a peer-reviewed site written by scholars and experts. But the entry-approval process took too long. ‘It was very, very academic and it failed because it wasn’t really any fun for volunteers — it was too rigid,’ says Wales.

Nupedia’s editor-in-chief and Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger then suggested using existing ‘wiki’ software created by programmer Ward Cunningham to make collaborating on web pages easier. ‘We were so close to giving up because progress was so slow that I decided to give it a go,’ Wales recalls. ‘Within two weeks we had as much work done as in almost two years.’

However, what made Wikipedia function was also what made it vulnerable, since anyone with an internet connection could edit the site. ‘Most of the early wikis that were out there didn’t keep the past history, so they didn’t grow and self-heal over time,’ says Wales. ‘If somebody came in and damaged something the old version would be lost. And that was that. It was really just an interesting kind of community, almost …….

Source: https://www.christies.com/features/First-Wikipedia-edit-to-be-sold-as-NFT-11983-1.aspx