The Jimmy Wales Wikipedia seminar started off with a prediction by Jimmy that the cost of textbooks and learning materials will drop to zero within a decade or so, and the cost of computers to $100. We all cheered that one, if a little sceptically.
Thank you for contributing ideas to this blog. I guess that the key point made by Jimmy Wales was that the Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. It is better than any other encyclopedia (he implied), but that doesn't make it a textbook, or a scholarly resource, or anything else but an encyclopedia.
The Wikipedia also comes with an ideological framework. Wales is part of the free culture movement, and in fact is a member of the board of Creative Commons. He speaks of creating a base layer of raw cultural materials built on Wikipedia, Flickr and many other sources. Wales is opposed to censorship, and there is no legitimate Wikipedia in, say, China.
Wikipedia is also planning to move into some other services - open serving (free hosting for people making content and software freely available), a Wikia search engine (modestly described as "Google's worst nightmare), multi-language versions (there is a goal of an encyclopedia for all language groups with more than a million speakers - pity about the Welsh), and more. When we were chatting, I suggested a dictionary built on contributed examples of usage (just like the OED). Wikipedia is the 10th most popular Internet site (according to Alexa).
An interesting day, and the panel was interesting too - some old friends, like Daniel Ingvarson, Randall Straw (head of Multimedia Victoria), Rodney Sparks of E-Works, as well as James Farmer (The Age's Online Community Editor), Dr Martin Wild and Sarah Phillips (a Deakin student), all coordinated by Mark Pesce. My role on the panel was to represent libraries, which I did by pointing out their equivocal responses to the Wikipedia, but their essential and intrinsic sympathy for its open access to knowledge goals. Watch for the podcast version!