dijous, 3 de juliol de 2014

The creator of Wikipedia about Catalan language

The creator of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales
Speaking at the V Fórum Impulsa in Girona last Friday, the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, discussed how the online encyclopaedia "protects and expands knowledge" of Catalan. In fact, it was one of the first languages to launch articles on the site, after English and German, and has now already amassed more than 400,000. Wales has highlighted Catalonia’s "passion for its language," and compared it with the Welsh Wikipedia, which is also “extremely active” despite Welsh being a relatively little spoken language. The creator of the free encyclopaedia was one of the featured speakers at the fifth edition of the Fórum Impulsa in Girona, along with others such as the President of the World Bank, James D. Wolfenshon, and Antonin Léonard, the creator of Ouishare, a movement which promotes collective and collaborative consumption.


Jimmy Wales was one of the big names speaking at this fifth edition of the Fórum Impulsa, an international showcase of entrepreneurship annually held in Girona. The 2014 edition bore the slogan “open and collaborative" and held Wales as an example of someone who embodies this spirit.

The free encyclopaedia he created today attracts more than 550 million monthly visitors from around the globe, and is funded entirely by donations. Last year, the budget of Wikipedia was $ 50 million, thanks "to a large majority of small donors", as Wales explained (donors who on average contribute between 30 and 40 euros).

The online encyclopaedia, which already has an app for iPhone and Android, has rapidly developed, expanding knowledge around the world. "Our application 'Wikipedia Zero has no charge, and that gives us access to developing countries, where sometimes users may pay for little more than the phone" explained its creator. 

But the potential of Wikipedia does not just lie here. The free encyclopaedia also serves to protect and expand the knowledge of "sensitive tongues,” according to Wales. To illustrate this, the Wikipedia creator referred to the similar situations of Welsh and Catalan. Both have an active presence on Wikipedia despite being comparatively little spoken languages. 

"Extremely active"

Jimmy Wales said that Welsh and Catalan pages are "extremely active" demonstrating "the passion for language" that their speakers share. In addition, he highlighted the drive to teach Catalan in Catalonia, a contrast to Wales, where its use on the street is “limited”.

The Wikipedia founder explained during his presentation that today, there are 430,000 entries in Catalan within the free encyclopaedia. And, indeed, this was one of the first languages to have articles on the site. The first language set up after English was German, and “just a few moments later,” Catalan. Wales explained this was because “some Catalan people were very eager that we should set this up.”

Wales illustrated the push of Catalan in Wikipedia with some statistics. "The Catalan Wikipedia, with respect to the volume of entries, occupies the 17th place in the world rankings," he announced. "In addition, for every million speakers of Catalan, Wikipedia has 56 publishers, compared with 21 in English or 8 in Spanish”, he added.

Finally, with regards to the global regulations that pertain to the Internet, the Wikipedia founder believes that it is not necessary to tighten and restrict the web with new laws. "Those in smaller countries, however, need more government transparency," he argued.

Internationally renowned

The fifth edition of the Fórum, organized by the Prince of Girona Foundation (FPdGi), has brought internationally renowned speakers to the city. The conference opened on Friday with a lecture by the former President of the World Bank, James D. Wolfhenson. During his speech, Wolfhenson talked about the international perception of the new Spanish King Felipe VI (who had just chaired the FPdGi Awards ceremony on Thursday), which he generally considered to be very positive. 

"He is a new face, and all I can say is that you are very lucky to have him," said the former President. "At least, people on the outside, and in particular non-Catalans, think of him as a great leader for Spain, and want to keep the country together," said Wolfhenson, who also stated that he believed Felipe VI could help eliminate the economic crisis. 

The morning’s presentations were divided into three sections: The Opportunity, the Present and the Horizon. Among those speaking on the stage of the Auditorium in the Palace of Congress of Girona were the inventor of Internet identities, Paul Mockapteris; the creator of the collaborative movement OuiShare, Antonin Léonard and CEO of Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz.

Over 1,300 people, mostly young people, attended this year's V Fórum Impulsa. The presentations in the auditorium ended early in the afternoon on Friday, and the programme was closed by the second annual meeting of the “talent sponsor”.

The initiative promoted by FPdGi aims to improve young people’s access to the labour market, putting them in contact with employers. This second meeting was held at the Hotel-Ultònia in order to open the forum to the city with the participation of 150 people (including youth and mentors).

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