English subtitles for clip: File:Ward Cunningham, Inventor of the Wiki.webm

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Wiki is collaborative software

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I made it on the web and

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allowed people to come to a website and
create something.

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And I think what's really turned out is that
people discover that 


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they can create something

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with other people that they don't even know 
but they come to trust

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and they make something that surprises

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surprises them, all of them, 
in terms of its value.

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HyperCard was a

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kind of a drawing program where you could
draw a bunch of pages,

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a bunch of screens, and then cause one
screen to link to another.

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Well, nobody knew what hypertext was then
and so it was kind of hard to

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figure out, well, what are you supposed 
to do with this?

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And I liked that idea of having

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something that kinda challenges you and

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I like to figure out what to do with things so

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so I thought, well, 
I'll make a bunch of cards

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about how ideas move through my company.

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An interesting thing about it was that it assumed that

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if you wanted to make a link, if you wanted a button on one card to go to

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another card

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you would know what other card, and it would already exist.

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And when I was asking people to tell me about

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how ideas move through the company -
they were always talking about moving to a company

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someplace that

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there wasn't a card for - 
so I just made it so that

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you could type the name of something and
when you press the button

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to go to the link, and it wasn't there,
it made the card.

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And making it on-demand, let you

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move around a hypertext and when you got
to the edge of it,

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it would just push that edge out further. And so

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I could tackle a subject that's

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unimaginably large - every idea in my whole company -

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but people who knew about ideas would

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just follow it around, they would go from card to card until they went to some place they

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got to the edge

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but they went to the edge because they knew about that edge. They wanted to see what I

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said about it. And my program said

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"I don't know about this, tell me something about this."

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And they just loved to write. 
In fact in HyperCard, people would come to sit at my desk

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and they would want a demo of HyperCard

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and I would show them this program and they wouldn't leave. 

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You know, I had a pet theory that

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engineers wouldn't use an idea

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unless they had seen it work before.
You know, that they were basically conservative.

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And so

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ideas were slow to be absorbed. And so, I was interested in how ideas moved around

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in communities. 

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And that notion was more important than any particular hypertext.

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But we had held some conferences,

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we called it the "pattern languages of programming" conference, 

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or "Pattern Languages of Programs",

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and had a hundred people come out to the University of Illinois

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- this was the summer of 1994 -

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and talked about how

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we needed to write about computer programs in a different way

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so that we capture these ideas


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and why people decided an idea was good or bad.

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And then my friends said:

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"Oh, let me show you this new thing called the 'World Wide Web'".

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It was the University of Illinois, right? 
They created the first graphical browser.

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And they showed this to me and they said:

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"Ward, we think you need to make 

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a hypertext pattern repository." 

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Well of course, I thought, you know, 
I've done this before with HyperCard

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and I just needed to move it over to the Web

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and then I wouldn't have people sitting around my desk

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because it was the Web, it was international.

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So it solved that problem. And could I do it?

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Could I get forms into ... and I had to make up this idea of markup.

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Because I had to account for the fact that I didn't have the buttons 

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that I had in HyperCard.

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You know, it is a different system.
But I made markup,

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and then I tried it, and I sat there, and I started typing stuff in,

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and it was as much fun as I remembered. 

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I knew it was fun to do it in HyperCard, I knew people wouldn't leave my desk.

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But I could sit there on the Web and I said: "I've got it - this is the feeling".

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You know, I pay attention to what it feels like to use computer programs, and it felt right.

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So I knew it was important. I knew it would serve the purpose

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which I wanted: to talk about ideas -- again in computer programming.

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So the audience I was imagining was people just like me.

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People were very surprised, or in fact sometimes people would

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you know, send me e-mails saying 
"I don't want to mention it, but

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you've got terrible bug in your system - 
it lets people write anything!"

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or they would say: "You've got a mistake on this page", 
and they

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would send me

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an email telling me what the mistake was 
and what I should have said instead.

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And to encourage them I would just take
their email and paste it into

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the wiki and then send them a pointer
to the page. 

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I said "I took the liberty 
of taking your message and

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putting in the wiki for you, 
but you could have done it yourself."

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And I babysat the community that way

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for a couple of years.
The other thing is, because I didn't have any notion...

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You know, I encouraged people not to sign their words. 

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I thought, you know -
your words, your ideas are a gift to the community

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and you shouldn't be claiming credit for it, 
because then nobody else is

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going to improve it:
They are going to feel it's yours.

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So I discouraged that. 
I used that a lot myself.

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I did probably 80% of my editing anonymously

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and that just let people feel that 

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"oh, there is a large community here, 
there is all this back and forth",

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yet it has a consistency, because I wrote a lot of it.

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But that's a bootstrapping problem: 
I had to make it feel like there is a community 

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to attract a community.

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And people poured in.
The other thing is that I invited

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the people with the most recognizable names.


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When they showed up and wrote something, 

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they only had to write a page or two


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because somebody else, who was less well known, 
would say:

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"Oh, he's here - I should be here".

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This kind of stroked vanity. 

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I might have been wrong on some of this stuff.

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I mean, sometimes people feel that if they aren't 
gonna get credit for that they write,

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they don't wanna write.

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But I was encouraging people to recognize 
that they are gifting their words.

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You know, it's just an idea, and ideas are cheap.

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And when people would write something 

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and come back later and find that

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their words had improved,

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that's pretty exciting, you see.
"Boy, overnight this got better, 

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Who made this better?"
And it's almost a mystery, because 

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they didn't sign it either.

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It's like "oh, the wiki made this better".

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Well, you are not used to 
things getting better on their own.

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A classic thing on

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computer communication boards and that
at the time was

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you would write something 
and somebody would spot a spelling error

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so they would say:

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"You spelled it this and it's spelled that"

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Because the only place you could write 
is at the bottom.

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You could add, but you couldn't change.

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So you write something and you come back,

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and all you find is 
tedious complaining about what you said.

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Now on my system, you write a spelling error, 
somebody just fixes it.


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and you come back and 
you don't even notice it was there.

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But you find this one sentence that somebody added 
that really gets at something 

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you were trying to say.

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So the positive stands out 
and the negative is just erased.

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Now the nice thing there is if somebody comes along 

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in the meantime and is reading,
who knows less than you


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they might find your partial answer valuable.

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So this idea that you start, that

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every thought is kind of a seed 
and it just grows and grows and grows,

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it's been used very effectively on Wikipedia, but 

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it was very important on my wiki,
which was really about changing the way 

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people talked about computer programs

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because there wasn't anything other 
than people's direct experience

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to fall back on.
So as people would write about their experience programming

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people would read it and 
it's the first time they had ever read 

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somebody talking about, say, 
being afraid that they wouldn't be able 

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to get the program done, and

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how that changed the decisions they made, out of fear.

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Or, how they

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found a way to work with somebody else

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and find the thing that is acceptable to both.

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There are lots of aspects.  

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We were very interested in how computer programs
could form in an emergent way,

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where you didn't have a master plan for the computer program.

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You say, well, we have a general idea what we want to do,

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and you know some of it and I know some of it,
and Joe knows some of it,

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but we're all gonna work together

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and just let the program grow.
Well,

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you know, to talk about something like that, 

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which was unheard of at the time 
in computer programming,

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in an environment, in a text system,

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in a discussion board
that had the same property,

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well, it was a demonstration of
the very concept we were trying to

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explore for computer programming.

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And it is true in computer programming,
we see it all the time, 

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and it's accepted now, 

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but it was considered foolishness when we started.
And now it's recognized

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as really the only way

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to make a really great program.
It was my first Hawaiian word

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that I learned as they were trying to
direct me to the Wiki-wiki bus between

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terminals.

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"Wiki" is a Hawaiian word that means "quick", 
and so "wiki-wiki" means "very quick",

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so it's the very quick web.  
It's always been

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technically called "WikiWikiWeb". But

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when I wrote the script, 
the CGI script that made it work,

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it was on a UNIX system, 
and of course on UNIX you always use

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abbreviations and lower case.  
So I called it "wiki.cgi" in UNIX,

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and so most people didn't want to
bother to say "WikiWikiWeb"; 

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they just called it "wiki".

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And that's fine with me. 

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So it's like saying "here's a system called 'quick'". 


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If you need more minds - you know, if one person knows everything

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and they can kind of sit back and really think deeply,

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they can see the whole program and just write it down.

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Or write a poem, you know.  
Poetry is one of those things that's personal enough

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that if you write a poem a day,
after thirty years you're a great poet,

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and it's probably a solo thing.

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But computer programs and encyclopedias are

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of a scale that you have to make it a
collaborative effort.

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And then to make it good -- to make it read

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like it was from a single mind -- is the
challenge, and that's where people have

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to learn how to complement each other, 
or I like to say,

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play to each other's strengths, where you take

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what you're good at and I take what I'm good at, 
and we find a way to fit it together

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-- to make it like we were one superman. 

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And that happens. It's not that hard.
There is a style of working together
<!--manually corrected until here-->

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where

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we'll agree ahead of time that

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you'll do this part and I'll do this part
and if you don't hold up your end of the

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deal

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then I'm gonna, you know, 
take you to court or something like that

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that's this contracting

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style stuff 
And I think that's better than competition

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but it only works for things
where you know where you're going in the

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act

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You know what the whole is gonna be.
That's

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a useful way to work, but that --

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because people who were funding

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computer programs, they thought, "well,
that's how we wanted to work this way --

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if I'm gonna pay you for six months to
write a computer program,

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I want to know what you're gonna do and
you're gonna do and you're gonna do"

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and --

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and it was the master plan.
And it turns out that

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that uses a small percentage of the
capability of the computer. 

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The computer is much better if you

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let it become what it really wants to be
your

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the best that you can make it and that's
a

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you know has a sort a sense of faith you
have to believe

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that it's gonna come out even though you
can't say what it is. I mean if somebody

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decided what the pages Wikipedia we're
gonna be

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you know to be any other project they
would have made it worst I've importance

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and pages and they would have been all
kinds of stuff that people

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in here that they would have thought a
You know I got this

<!--manually corrected from here-->
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"grow from the center out" kind of dynamic right 

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for a hypertext document on the web

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and that has been a model of sharing and involves 

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you can learn enough about each other to
develop this trust relationship

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But there is a couple of things that Wikipedia did right 

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that didn't even occur to me.

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For example, getting the licensing right.

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I was careless about the licensing and I think that

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saying "this has to be licensed this way, here is the ownership,

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here is the guarantees going forward" - that's important.

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And I just wasn't interested in that stuff,

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so I didn't do that right.

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Can you explain what that means, getting the licensing right?

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The openness -

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you know, I was open, but there was no guarantee 

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that is was open, 

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there was no agreement when somebody submitted.

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There was an expectation, 

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but it wasn't written down. And in fact I think when I finally did write it down, 

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I said I own it - 

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you have the right to use it, but you can't keep it.

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And that's not really open.

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But I think Jimmy Wales' relationship 

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with Richard Stallman got that right.

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The other thing that I just didn't think about, 

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or I thought would be too hard, was being international. 

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The fact that because it's licensed to be reused, of course that means 

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the content is free to go into other languages.

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free to go into other languages

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And the fact that people might want to read and write 

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in their own language - that international aspect is profound.

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In terms of actually having an opportunity to, 

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in some sense, bring the world together.

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Wikipedia is probably one of the strongest forces 

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in computers for, you know, creating peace in the world,  in essence.

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That's fabulous, this understanding - 

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to just believe it could be done in every language.

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When you find yourself reading 

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an encyclopedia that is about the things you care about, because 

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it was written by people just like you, talking about what they care about

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and that caring 

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becomes so important to you, you trust this.

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Well, the fact (is that) that same sort of 

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interaction is happening in a lot of different cultures. 

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Now, we can talk about edit wars and stuff like that.

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But

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what really is happening is that there are people who are moving back and forth 

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between different languages.

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People who are fortunate enough to know and understand multiple cultures, 

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can, in this world, just carry little bits of culture back and forth.

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And when I read something, even in the English Wikipedia, 

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and I see some mention of, you know, where the airplane was really invented 

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or something like that,

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it's broad, in a sense, 

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because people who have a worldly view 

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- I'm unfortunately not very worldly -

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have shared their worldly view.

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And part of it is because they got involved with their language. 

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English is a big one, 

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but it is even more important if you have more obscure languages.

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It makes you part of 


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one world.
One world of ideas.

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And that idea that every language is important, 

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just as every person is important too.