Wikipedia and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. both changed the world. Today we celebrate the shared birthday of both a great historical figure and a fifteen year old information source. Both of them revolutionized our world.
Dr. Martin Luther King
Today we honor the story of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate the changes he brought to our national attitudes toward race, civil rights, and freedom. Most of us know his story, but if you needed to brush up on the details, it’s likely that you’d check Wikipedia first.
Remember the days before Yahoo, Google and Wikipedia changed how we looked up information? Google used their successful search engine and apps to become a world business and advertising leader. But, Wikipedia (also a top ten internet property) is still run by a non-profit foundation, the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Founded on this day fifteen years ago, Wikipedia has grown into the worlds largest community edited encyclopedia. Named “wiki” after the Hawaiian word for “quick”, Wikipedia pioneered a way to allow many people to work on the same document at the same time.
Back then, before it’s astounding success, there were plenty of skeptics. They thought that a community edited encyclopedia would be riddled with errors, and indeed it is an ongoing “work in progress”, but the many, many knowledgeable and generous people worldwide who have stepped up to give information and edit articles have made it an amazing source of information on a dizzying array of topics.
Those who tried to use Wikipedia to promote disinformation or narrow, biased views have learned that the human and bot editors at Wikipedia flag suspect content, to alert the public when an article seems biased or has no sources. And others can step in to balance such content with alternative points of view. No printed encyclopedia has such an internationally and culturally diverse group of editors.
Genealogists often use Wikipedia for preliminary research on historical people, places, and events. And the footnotes for the Wikipedia article lead to both internet and document sources that give specific details. Watch for more posts on how to use Wikipedia to help learn about the lives of your ancestors.
Genealogists also used the “wiki” concept to create WikiTree, a free universal family tree. WikiTree encourages genealogists to collaborate using traditional genealogy sources and DNA. Like Wikipedia, WikiTree encourages many editors who all record the SOURCE of their information. And that helps genealogists work together to find and solve problems.
Please join me in wishing Happy Fifteenth Birthday to both Martin Luther King, Jr. and to Wikipedia and giving thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of both.
Please comment below, if you participated in the Civil Rights Movement, or if you participate in Wikipedia or another Wiki, and if you are collaborating with others on an online tree, like WikiTree or Family Search Family Tree.
If you haven’t done so, please consider making this the year that you collaborate with others to share your knowledge.
And contact me for help finding information that can help you understand more about your ancestors, whether they were famous, or not.