In the history of modern media, it’s unlikely that anyone — at least, no one of similar size or scale — has embraced open principles more than Wikipedia. Co-founded by Jimmy Wales, the so-called “open-source encyclopedia” has grown to the point where it now encompasses 3.2 million articles, and is almost certainly far more influential than print-bound predecessors such as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Although the site has a team of editors, known internally as “the cabal” (a wink to conspiracy theorists), and occasionally locks down contentious articles, the vast majority of the site is still open to anyone to edit.
As part of ourongoing series on the tension between “open” and “closed” across a range of industries and markets, I spoke to Wales via Skype from London. Our conversation follows, edited for clarity and length.