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Vicki Rooms become Wiki Rooms

For a couple of hours earlier today, Bristol’s Victoria Rooms, a part of the University of Bristol, today became the Wikitoria Rooms, courtesy of the presence of Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, who was in Bristol as part of Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary celebrations (Wikipedia was actually launched on 15th January 2001. How the world has changed. Ed.).

Jimmy Wales at the Victoria Rooms, Bristol. Photo: Dan Martin

Jimmy’s talk started with the genesis of Wikipedia and how it grew out of the open source and free software movement, including the now infamous free as in freedom (as opposed to beer) quote, and how it has grown over the years to become the fifth most visited site on the internet, based on the premise of free knowledge for all.

Some interesting facts emerged regarding the profile of the average ‘Wikipedian’, as contributors and authors are known. They are predominantly male (87%), with an average age of 26 and they have twice the general population’s average percentage of PhDs. National differences in content reading also emerged from Jimmy’s talk. For instance, Germans read lots about geography, whilst the French and Spanish read less about sex than other nations, a point on which Jimmy opined that they were probably busier indulging in it than reading about it. πŸ˜‰

Looking at recent developments, Jimmy turned to such projects as Wikia – a community site to which anyone can contribute their knowledge on specific topics (or indeed start a wiki on a new topic). As an example, he quoted Lostpedia, a wiki devoted to the US TV series, Lost.

Jimmy’s talk concluded with future directions and prospects and these were reflected in the questions from the floor and those submitted online. Perhaps the most interesting of these was one about the knotty subject of net neutrality. Jimmy conceded his position on this was “complicated”, but concluded by inferring that the control exerted on access to information, such as the Apple Apps model for smartphones represented more of a threat to “diverse and open ecosystems”.

Finally, the event was streamed live and attracted an online audience of some 3,000 people (Is this a record for a Bristol webcast? Ed.).

All in all, an enjoyable and inspiring event and one which will live in his memory for a long time by your ‘umble scribe, who was conscripted to assist with covering the event in brief bursts of 140 characters on Twitter.

9 Responses to Vicki Rooms become Wiki Rooms

  1. Peter Holt January 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    What a great event – and the live tweeting helped give a flavour of the audience reaction too.

    3,000 or so live views a real achievement – well done for webcasting live. (Not quite a record for Bristol, of course – 5,624 watched the live webcast of a Bristol City Council development control committee consider a particularly contentious planning application a while back )

  2. Steve Woods January 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Thanks for your comment Peter. I’ll remember the 5.6K figure for future use. πŸ™‚

  3. Steve Woods January 14, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    If you missed the talk itself, it’s now available in full here.

  4. Dan Martin January 16, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Many thanks for using my image in your blog post.

    I interviewed Jimmy Wales on camera a few hours before his speech in Bristol. You can watch the interview at

  5. Steve Woods January 16, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Hi Dan

    I thought you wouldn’t mind your image being used with a picture credit. Thanks too for the link to your post. πŸ™‚

    Jimmy Wales’ visit has definitely been a bonus for Bristol, which is now a buzzing city, a fount of digital talent and a showcase for the implementation of new technology – quite a change from the sleepy backwater to which I moved 30-odd years ago.

  6. Steve Woods January 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Here’s the video of Jimmy’s talk at the Victoria Rooms.


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