Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales followed Jacques Delors as the second winner of the Leonardo Award. An invaluable collection of knowledge on the internet which is both easy to access and to which everyone can contribute – ten years ago sceptics mocked the whole idea of the Wikipedia project.
But the online encyclopedia has proved its critics wrong: hundreds of thousands of volunteers have helped to make Wikipedia the largest repository of knowledge known to man and revolutionized knowledge creation within society generally as well as in the education and business worlds. It is for this achievement that Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales received the Leonardo – European Corporate Learning Award.
In terms of launching this approach into the digital age, Jimmy Wales is the ideal choice given his personal commitment to the idea of Wikipedia and the contribution made by volunteers across the globe. Wales has inspired many people to actively contribute their knowledge and creativity to the creation of the encyclopedia in their country and how the success of this venture has now led to the emergence within businesses of many projects which adopt a similar approach. Trying to keep up with the huge explosion of knowledge in Wikipedia is an ongoing challenge for the business world. Companies not only owe a debt of respect to the online encyclopedia and the work of its volunteers but now also promote the Wiki ethos within their own organizations.
Echoing the approach used in producing the online encyclopedia itself, Jimmy Wales feels that the spotlight cast by this award should not just centre on him, but rather on the many others involved in making Wikipedia a success. That is why there were three Wikipedia education representatives from different European nations stepping up together to receive the Leonardo award at the HRM Expo in Cologne: Nando Stöcklin (Switzerland), Ziko van Dijk (Netherlands) and Denis Barthel (Germany).