Leonardo Award

Advisory Board’s and Steering Committee’s Objective for Awarding Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales

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).

Nando Stöcklin

Nando Stöcklin

A researcher at Bern University’s Centre for IT in Education, and his Swiss colleagues have been looking since 2006 at how Wikipedia can be used for educational purposes. In his book “How to make clever use of Wikipedia in school and at work”, he focuses on the pitfalls of Wikipedia; given that the project is particularly vulnerable to manipulation and clever PR, Stöcklin wants to improve users’ information literacy skills so that they are better able to judge the quality of the articles contributed. Stöcklin’s input into Wikipedia ranges from 30-minute lecture contributions to longer presentations and whole-day courses.

Dr. Ziko van Dijk

Dr. Ziko van Dijk

The managing director of Wikimedia Netherlands, has been involved with Wikipedia since 2003: a German living in the Netherlands, he writes mainly articles about German and Dutch history and these appear in four languages (German, Esperanto, Dutch and English). He has a particular interest in making it easier for people to become involved with Wikipedia, hence the publication in 2010 of his book “Wikipedia – how you can contribute to the free encyclopedia”, in which he describes the background to the project. Wikipedian van Dijk is also researching the multilingual nature of the online encyclopedia and exploring the reasons why some countries’ portals are more successful than others.

Denis Barthel

Denis Barthel

Wikipedia’s education representative for Germany, has been writing for Wikipedia for many years and has worked as a project manager for Wikimedia Germany since 2007. Part of his remit is to develop the infrastructure of departmental meetings and literary scholarships and promote closer collaboration with scientists as authors. Together with other Wikipedians he developed the idea of the Wikimedia Germany’s schools project and he and his team of volunteer speakers go into schools to hold workshops and give presentations on the subject.


See the Interview with Jimmy Wales

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