tv Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Delivers Remarks at the Cato Institute CSPAN November 1, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT
campaign coverage. we're at the cato institute in washington to hear from wikipedia founder jimmy wales, set to speak to the group and take questions momentarily here on c-span. we want to remind you of our road to the white house coverage coming up. at 8:00 eastern, donald trump is campaigning in wisconsin. we will also bring you a hillary clinton rally in fort lauderdale, florida.
>> tonight at the cato institute, wikipedia founder jimmy wales. wikipedia describes the cato institute as an american libertarian think tank. 1974. founded in cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy and societal influence, all of them sitting well with the speaker tonight. jimmy wales will talk about a number of issues.
communication center in oklahoma. with a week left in the 2016 campaign as you begin to look back at all of the advertisements, are there certain things -- themes that have emerged? i think there are a lot of seems that recur through history, but something we see picking up this year, we see an emphasis more on the negative, and that makes sense with the fact that these are two candidates who have the highest unfavorable ratings in history. we also see in those negative ads, using the words of the opponent against them. host: what is an example of that , and is that relatively new and political advertising or something that has long been done? reallywe have seen it, thecan go back to 1956 and
campaign that used ads eisenhower had run. saying that eisenhower had promised to lower inflation. it seemed that when clinton began her general election ad campaign, it was a most exclusively words from donald trump, spoken over the images of children watching television or young women looking in the mirror. host: you talk about images recurring through history happening in political ads, one new ad combines past and present and is getting a lot of attention. let us show it to our viewers. inthis is me in 1964, i was a political commercial. the fear of nuclear war, i never thought that our children would have to deal with that.
>> a foreign-policy expert went to advise donald trump and three times -- >> good evening, think you for being here, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the cato institute and also to welcome those viewing on c-span, i am ,eter keller -- gellar president of cato. this is our first in the mclachlan lecture series. i would like to tell you a little bit about joseph mclachlan. dr. mclachlan was a world-renowned cancer epidemiologist. he received his doctorate from the university of minnesota in 1981. he works for a number of years
at the national cancer institute, and in 1994 was the cofounder of the international epidemiology institute, where he served as president. he was also a natural professor at -- an adjunct professor at johns hopkins. world-renowned epidemiologist and he believed in the rigorous application of the scientific method. he was occasionally known to bemoan the state of the field of science. i think he had a strong ability, unlike some of his peers and unlike most of us, who occasionally fall prey to buy us -- bias that correlation can be causality, i
think he resisted that impulse. because he was a scientist is not the only reason we are honoring him. he was a generous sponsor of ours for over two decades. he also had the broad and accomplished intellect to which so many of us aspire and failed to reach. he had a library of thousands of volumes. he had an incredibly wide range of academic interests ranging tom economics to genetics .ell more -- film noir i was told that he was interested in everything. he was particularly interested in the correlation between geography and achievement for civilization. questions like why is silicon valley the center of technological novation?
-- innovation? why did hollywood become home to the film industry? why was ancient athens the center of advanced thought at the time? we are delighted to honor his memory. i only met him once, it was before i joined cato. we both attended a lunch here where he was seated next to an equally impressive intellect, harvard psychologist and cognitive scientist steven pinker. that was unfortunately just a few weeks before joseph's untimely passing. through the generosity of his daughter,g with their this lecture series has been made possible. [applause] >> for those of you who are not
as familiar with the cato institute, we view our mission very broadly as the defense and advancement of the critical human and american values of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. values feelen those under assault in the political process is giving us choices we find unpalatable, we sometimes get discouraged. but i think it is important to not get discouraged and to open the aperture a little bit and recognize all of the things that human freedom has given us. it has given us the environment in which innovation can take place. , often say, people who know me this will be a bit of a broken record, there is no better time to be alive as a human being than today because of the great
innovations that have made our lives very interesting. the leisure, recreation opportunities we enjoy here in the united states. most important, the great level of global press verity -- prosperity that has increased as poverty has decreased substantially. i think we do liberty at the service when we don't fully appreciate or take for granted these things. i think it was walter williams who told a story about how to appreciate the miracle of free enterprise and the markets. when you have to go to the grocery store, you don't call them up and tell them you are coming or what you want, but when you get there, the dozens and dozens of things you want are there at high-quality and modest cost. also hundreds and hundreds of things in don't want. the choice is incredible. it is miracles like that that
remind me of the person we are going to hear from tonight. if i had told you 20 years ago when you were first trundling on to the information superhighway on your dial up modem, if i had told you there was going to be an encyclopedia available and it was going to be published in 295 different languages, you would you didn't even know there were 295 different languages. unlike that stack of books on your shelf, it would be completely available online. the largest version, the english version, is going to have 5.2 million articles, and i believe 3.2 billion words. and that you were going to be able to access this as well free of charge whenever you want to do through the generosity of donors to the wikimedia
foundation. was one of them. thanks to the generosity of him and his fellow sponsors, they allow me to go to wikipedia time and again during the day. wikipedia, as i believe you all know -- if i had told you that such a facility was going to exist, and i made that prediction, you would have thought i was crazy. you would have thought i was particularly insane or under the influence if i told you that this vast encyclopedia was going to be written without compensation by registered users of which there are now almost 30 million. we would have thought this could not be possible. but it is the genius of friedrich hayek, the namesake of
this auditorium, that explains how things like wikipedia can come to pass, and it was the genius of jimmy wales that brought wikipedia into existence. jimmy was born in alabama. he attended until eighth-grade a one-room school that was run by his mother and grandmother, which i believe was based on the montessori approach. i suppose it would not have to be this way, but it should not surprise us that he really enjoyed pouring through -- poring through encyclopedias as a child. he credits this upbringing as the source of his inspiration. he got a bachelor's degree at auburn university and a master's at the university of alabama, which i imagine means that iron bowl day must be very difficult for him.
that is when auburn plays the university of alabama. or maybe it is easy because he doesn't care who went. he went to work as a researcher at a chicago financial options firm, where he worked from 1994-2000. in 2000, he left his job because he was becoming increasingly interested in the internet and he started an internet company which did not succeed. wikipedia'sfounded forerunner -- idol think it is technically a forerunner, but it was his first attempt at an online encyclopedia. and then in 2001, he launched wikipedia, and the rest as they say, is history. i will let him more aptly describes that for us. welcomingn me in jimmy wales. [applause]
mr. wales: thank you very much. it is really great to be here. i actually did visit the cato institute about 150 years ago, i think it was. i am joking, it was maybe 20 years ago. i had a girlfriend at the time who was an intern here and i popped by one-day. abouting to talk wikipedia and reasoned discourse among because for me this is one of the most important features of the wikipedia, which is something that is sorely lacking in the world today, and one of the reasons for the popularity of wikipedia is that it is a place people can turn for this. the original vision statement for wikipedia, and that is for all of us to imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.
that is what we are doing. i think one of the reasons wikipedia has been so successful is that we have managed to gather this incredible group of volunteers, people who are very passionate about wikipedia, about getting it right, about sharing knowledge. one of the reasons they are so passionate is that we have a really big vision. i think if i had started with a smaller vision, let's all get together and write an entry for every u.s. president, people would wonder what the point was. but this is really grand and every single person with the access to the sum of knowledge. we have created more than 40 million entries, we have monthly over 400 million unique visitors. this is a pretty staggering number to get your head around. our internal server log suggests even higher traffic, these are the official numbers from, score
, -- official numbers from comscore. even they admit they are not as good at measuring in the developing world and mobile traffic. we believe this number is probably a little low, but is still a big number. wikipedia is in 284 languages. i always think this number is a little bit unfair, i don't actually claim 284 languages, because a flare -- fair number of the languages are very small. there are 284 websites set up that have a very tiny community working. if we really want to get an idea of the scope of wikipedia and scale of wikipedia, some statistics. we have 10 languages with over 10 million entries.
in terms of human written, primarily human written languages, 48 languages have at least 100,000 entries, 28 have and 284 have00, at least 1000. -- 234 have at least 1000. if there is a small community, they start to think of themselves as a community and they start to think about how to get more volunteers. one of the things to think about is that wikipedia is not evenly distributed around the world. the distribution of where wikipedia is big or not big, in many ways you could predict it easily. what are some of the factors? degree of education is important, access to broadband.
there are various other cultural factors. one of the things that is interesting to look at, if you look at the top increase per capita, the -- some of the top languages per capita, the number ofentries versus the number speakers of the language would swedish, and why is that? we don't know for sure. i have a theory. [laughter] really cold ups there. this is just a joke, but it is true that we see that some of the factors are hard to predict. northern european countries are very strong. only talk about the global nature of wikipedia, one of the
questions people always have is the question of china. quite famously, china has the most comprehensive program of censorship on the internet, and we had a long history in china. we were blocked in china for many years and then we were unblocked in china. an a very long time, we had uneasy equilibrium. china had developed the capability and were able to block individual pages from wikipedia. almost all of wikipedia but they filtered certain pages. the pages they were filtering for the most part with the office once. anything having to do with tiananmen square. an artist who is very annoying to them. a man who won the nobel priest price. -- peace prize.
they let most of wikipedia through. it was an uneasy truce but we made commitment that we would never cooperate, we have never dissipated in censorship -- participated in censorship. we cannot stop them but we have never made an agreement. there were overtures, they want us to come in to china and they offered to host us and we said no because we believe that fundamentally, the right to an encyclopedia is a fundamental human right. it is the equivalent of freedom of expression. whatever restrictions you might except on speech in different societies, the basic facts of the world should not be part of that. to, due in no small part ,evelations from edward snowden there was an indication that
wikipedia was an easy site to spy on, we worked to encrypt wikipedia. what this is meant for freedom of expression worldwide is interesting. that means whoever is fine cannot see what page you are reading. of being ableion to filter out specific pages is no longer available. they have to adopt an all or none approach. everyoned to say that who was filtering out pages is now allowing access to wikipedia. that has been a big win. that unfortunately has not worked in china. china is now completely blocking wikipedia. we will continue to have dialogue with them.
i am very much a believer of having conversations. we are very patient. we have no plans to compromise. unfortunately, i think they have no plans to compromise, so we are in a bit of a deadlock. i will say, there were something very interesting that has happened over the years. we were blocked in china for several years, and just before the beijing olympics, china had it. of more openness. they knew -- china had a period of more openness. they knew foreigners were coming in. websites were open that were previously blocked. someone sent me this interesting image, it is a menu from a restaurant in beijing. "u can see that, it says wikipedia fried with eggs."
someone sent this and asked me, what does this mean? i wrote back and said i have no idea. i sent an e-mail to the beijing area wikipedians. said, wee me back and have no idea. [laughter] mr. wales: the best we can figure is that because wikipedia had just been opened up and a lot of foreigners were coming over, a lot of restaurants that they needed to translate the menus and they were just going on google to try and translate. ,nything you type into google what is the first thing that comes up? wikipedia. there are a bunch of these. stirfried wikipedia.
i like it spicy myself. culturale have had a impact in china, even though we are currently blocked. think a nonprofit and we a lot about sustainability for the long run, and if things get really tough, i think we can open up a restaurant chain in china. just getting. -- getting. -- kidding. it is important to understand that wikipedia is not written in english and translated to other languages, it is written organically. obviously some translation goes on, but i would say just as much translation goes into english as out of english. think isnteresting to that how does the content differ across countries? we did a preliminary small study where we looked at what are the most popular pages in wikipedia?
this is not what portion of the content, or what readers are interested in. , their graphslook here are four english, chinese, french, german, spanish. one of the first things that pops out at people, if you see a big green bar here for japan, it is pop-culture. this makes sense if you know anything about japan, it is a big part of life in japan. to me this made sense. another one here that is interesting is that the germans are the most interested in geography. thing.e that is a good [laughter] mr. wales: i don't make that joke when i am in germany, there
still a little sensitive about that kind of thing. finally, you will see that almost all of the leg which is, isone of the top topics sexuality. someone explain to me that in france and spain, they are actually having sex and that is why it is not the same for them. the rest of us are just reading about it on the internet. this is fun to joke about, and one of the interesting thing about our community is that we have a very diverse community, and people like in a playful and positive way to play around with stereotypes. one of the great things about the wikipedia community is that it is these -- this group of people who are truly global. they don't think of themselves as being inherently and conflict with other cultures, they learning about each other and so on. one of the important questions we should all ask ourselves,
because wikipedia is now part of the infrastructure of the world, is who writes wikipedia? why we want to know who they are? this is a quote from a school librarian on twitter who said "yesterday i asked what my students if she knew what an encyclopedia is and she said, is it like wikipedia?" wikipedia's is now 15 years old. that means that for kids who are entering university today, wikipedia has existed from the time they were learning to read. the kids who are entering universities today are the wikipedia generation. certainly in the last five years, when they were old enough to start researching topics online for school or personal interest, wikipedia was huge and ubiquitous and part of the atmosphere for them. wikipedia is really and truly
part of the infrastructure of the world, something very familiar to them. we should really care who writes wikipedia. we should all care about the quality of wikipedia because it is so important to the world. just a few things by the numbers. our community is about 87% male. we have looked at this number multiple times, sometimes it is a little blow or or a little higher. i think 87% is a plausible guess, i think it may more like 80% these days, but it is still not good. we know the gender imbalance is something that probably has to change in order to address some of the problems we have with in balance content. people tend to write about something they know. we have an average age of 26. all of these things are basically fine, except i think the gender in balance is a problem. balance is a
problem. if you look at award-winning novelists and you look at the entries on the mail novelists as opposed to the female novelists novelists have longer entries. aboutthat people write books they've read and what they're passionate about. are books that are primarily aimed at a female audience, books that are a bit primarily male audience. this is something we really want to address. one of the things, when you are using wikipedia, you are typing and reading -- and of course wikipedia is written in an
authoritative style and it is in personal. it is not like a message board where you feel the personality of the person who wrote it. for many people new to wikipedia, it is so institutional it is hard to imagine the volunteers. -- i am going you to show you a short video of some volunteers letting them be there -- speaker own words. >> if you have knowledge, you must share it. >> i like that the purpose of this website did not say website, it did not say wiki, it did not say internet, it just said free knowledge for everyone in their own language. an invitation. you don't have to take an invitation, but there is an invitation out there to edit and be part.
i can click on whatever your favorite news channel is. , ii want an encyclopedia want to hear an argument i might agree with. they can point to the entry with and say, if you read this, you will understand the debate. learning and knowledge about the world is the best way to come to a point of view. another core principle is wikipedia is free. bited.t it to be redistru that model means you can redistribute modified versions commercially or noncommercially. people can take the concept.
we are happy when they do that. but what does this mean? in order for it to be legally possible, we have to respect the law. we do not allow copyright violation. it is a little broader than that. you can lay dry something without technically violating. we do not want to plagiarize things. it is important for us as an tion in ournda community we can say, we wro the community is very passionate about this. when you think about the kinds of legal problems we might have, actually dealing with copyright infringement is minimal for us. very seldom does a copyright complaint even rise to the level of the legal department because the community aggressively looks
out for that kind of thing. value ishe next core stability. no personal attacks. we all know that if you go online, he can quickly to send into vicious personal attacks. attacks on you as a person instead of your ideas. this is very against the wikipedia ethos. i'm not going to say it never happens, but there is a fundamental five in the community that it is wrong. we do ban people who cannot behave in a proper manner. it is not a perfect system but it works pretty well and helps to attract a really good group of people who really care a lot about getting it right. newcomers to the community can have a hard time because they come from other environments where the way to get something done is to yellow people, insult
people, that is normal savior in some parts of the internet -- that is normal behavior in some parts of the internet. and you to wikipedia, immediately start coming in arguing, and everyone is like, hold on, we are writing an encyclopedia. let's try and improve the entry together. another part is iar, which means ignore all rules. we want to be able to question our own rules, are they valid and helpful? we want people to say, if you see a way to improve encyclopedia that is against a rule, go ahead and do it, that you better be sure you can justify it.
theother meaning is that rules themselves should be written in such a fashion that they should be almost intuitively obvious for people. things like don't go around calling people at ller is -- calling people hitler is obviously a good one. these are basic kindergarten ethics. are, lie about who you don't write biased things, don't misrepresent sources, these are basic things. if there is a role about the exact formatting of a footnote, ideally if you do not do it right, no one should tell you, they should come fix the footnote and give you a pointer. they should give you the style guide and have nice behavior. we should not be excessively will bound. we've been doing this a long time and i think this is one of our failings that we are very experienced in writing an encyclopedia newcomers sometimes
feel awkward -- off-put. but we are human beings. finally i wanted to speak about our business model. the wikimedia foundation is a charity. we are running the fifth most popular website in the world, which is astonishing. it is very unusual. employees,ut 270 mostly in san francisco. we of local chapters around the with locallp deal work and working with the press. it is in an unusual model. 90% of our funding is from small donors, from people theare giving the book -- bulk of the money comes from people who are giving a few dollars.
as it turns out, the last numbers i crunched, a cost about one u.s. penny per month per reader to provide wikipedia. if you give $20 to wikipedia, the next 20 people you see, you -- the next you 2000 people you see, you can say you paid their access to wikipedia. we've been reasonably successful. we run the organization in a financially conservative way and we have built up the amount of reserves recommended for nonprofit of our size. but it is something we have to take seriously. it is not easy to get all of the money we need, and every organization in theory could use more money to do good work, but we are doing ok. finally, i want to talk a little aws and our position in the world.
bad laws can damage our work. the way the internet works is not an automatic. there is a certain set of legal framework, certain set of things that are necessary to preserve the ability for websites like wikipedia to exist. too often, lawmakers are concerned about adjudicating between silicon valley and hollywood. issue, a billg that was going to be extraordinarily bad and we fought that and won. there is a simple trade-off with security. now,e u.k. where i live they sort of treat everyone as a potential criminal, and these are not the very global --
clever ways of dealing with this. lawmakers propose laws and it is fairly clear they do not even have the most rudimentary understanding of how the internet works. that is a bad thing. /pipa thing we are proud of. i try to limit what i say politically two issues where i feel my community will generally agree with me, but i try to divide my personal dispute -- personal views from the community. /pipa law required building a framework, it was all about blocking overseas websites with copyrighted content and it was very poorly thought out. we were told of the last minute it was being rushed through, it had bipartisan support and it was being rushed through congress.
it was delayed until christmas and that gave us time to decide what to do. we decided to do a protest. in january of that year -- what you are set? -- what year was that? 2011. january 2011 we went black for one day. the english wikipedia when completely black, not just in america. blackout.012 was the fall of 2011 is when we were discussing it. you can imagine the results. people went crazy. we heard that 10 million people contacted congress that day. [gasps] mr. wales: we heard that the
house of representatives phone system crashed. it was a big deal. we felt that we really put forward the message, we are a group ofal, we are volunteers trying to provide the world with a gift. this is not about google versus hollywood. many years ago, copyright could be thought of as an industrial revelation. publishers, authors, their relationship with each other. now everyone deals with copyright all the time. one of my favorite examples to get people to think about copyright is if you take a video at a child's birthday party and in the background there is a miley cyrus song playing and you upload to youtube and send link to grandma so she can view the that, it is very likely google will automatically
detected and silence the soundtrack. i'm not blaming google, they have to do it they have to do, but this is strange. this is not piracy or economically impactful. another issue in europe is the so-called right to be forgotten, which is a very amusingly named thing, because obviously ly this is not a thing, to allow other people to forget you. i think it should be called the right to censor google. the right to be forgotten is a concept in europe, i'm not talking about child porno or , these are things that are deemed by the person it is about to be irrelevant. just thatoblem is not
it is a violation of freedom of expression, the bigger problem is that the way it is implemented is through legal decision from a law that existed before google, about database information rights. when the law was written, they were clearly thinking about your personal remnant -- personal medical records. your personal medical records at a company, you should be able to ask them to delete them. -- this is a very different story from a newspaper wrote an article about me 10 years ago and i don't want it available anymore. formed legalll process. if google does not do it, they can be subject to fines. publisher, if google is
the leading links to wikipedia, which they are, we don't really have a clear course of action. we can complain to google could -- google, but we cannot really do anything. this is the kind of activism we do. it is easy to get the public excited by turning wikipedia off for day, but we don't want to use that too often. we don't want to be like, what are they moaning about today? but it is a tool i think we should be willing to use when the moment is right. i'm going to conclude now and then we have a little time for questions. i'm going to talk about the forces of anger and hate. right now we are in this incredibly highly, intellectual and clever election cycle. [laughter] not.ales: no, of course
the world today is filled with voices of anger and hate. the media is a disappointing circus. i think wikipedia is, as much as humans can make it, a place for discourse. a place to prepare oneself to make valid decisions. you come to wikipedia to get the information you need to make up your own mind. wikipedia editors and discussion and debate i told to -- this isier, not our world. we are about building bridges, not walls. i think we about knowledge and knowledge is about peace and understanding. thank you for your time. [applause] forwales: we have time questions. please wait to be called on.
wait for the microphone so everyone can hear the questions. announce your name and affiliation. i think we will be waiting for oh right.hone, -- >> how do you decide about disagreements as to certain entries in wikipedia. ? disagreements are resolved through a process of dialogue and debate. for he often, one of the great things about text is that there is a way that if you keep rewriting, to accommodate with -- both points of view. i give you this example of abortion. something has happened in israel. one group of people is saying it is a massacre and other people are saying it is a sense of operation. wikipedia cannot decide that.
do is stepdia can away for a little bit. time, he saidular other commentator said this and that, this is a result of a tribunal that was held later. we could give you a the facts of what other people's perspectives are. that works in most cases. people are able to say, actually, this is what an encyclopedia should do. in encyclopedia should not come to a final conclusion. for liablepassion sources. we look for high-quality sources. i would say we have a fairly sophisticated view of what constitutes of a high-quality source. it is not simplistic a thing we will accept the new york times but