Saturday, May 14, 2005

GEL 2005 - Jimmy Wales

This continues my recap of the Good Experience Live conference that was held on April 29th.

Jimmy Wales, founder of, was the next speaker.

Jimmy was interviewed by Mark Hurst prior to the conference. The interview can be found here.

One of the more interesting concepts Jimmy discussed was that of NPOV; the Neutral Point of View. Clearly, in a global market there can be a variety of viewpoints on any discussion item. How do you get those opposing views to collaborate rather than fight? The advice was to treat the individual with love and respect. Then frame the effort within the big picture; in this case, the foundation’s goal to provide a free encyclopedia to everyone in the world. This is nothing less than a big hairy audacious goal. It is easily recognized and easily understood. He has been finding that the more knowledgeable someone is about a topic, the more willing they are to consider the other side. It is those folks who are passionate but do not have the deep understanding of the topic that are harder to deal with. They apparently are not comfortable with their own understanding but use their passion to hold their position. I can buy this. In my experience, I have found that if someone is that passionate to not consider the other side, then it is usually because their belief is rooted in something akin to faith as opposed to a deep understanding of the details and reality of the situation or process.

Now, there is nothing wrong with faith. It has a role to play in life. But given the choice between science or “intelligent design”, I’ll take science.

So when faced with opposition, trying to implement the concepts behind the NPOV might be a good alternative to gain collaboration and cooperation as opposed to holding sides, building walls, and eventually escalating into something else.

If you have not used wikipedia yet, I encourage you to try it.

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