Larry Sanger

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Lawrence Mark "Larry" Sanger (born July 16, 1968) has been an organizer of various online encyclopedia projects, most notably, organizing Wikipedia as a free, open, and collaborative online encyclopedia and developing many Wikipedia policies. He was an important and early strategist for the expert-authored and edited Encyclopedia of Earth. On September 15, 2006 he proposed a new fork of Wikipedia called Citizendium.

Sanger was born in Bellevue, Washington, and reared in Anchorage, Alaska. He received his B.A. in philosophy from Reed College in 1991 and Ph.D. in philosophy from Ohio State University in 2000. His bachelor thesis is titled Descartes' methods and their theoretical background and his doctoral thesis concerned Epistemic Circularity: An Essay on the Problem of Meta-Justification. From 1998 to 2000 he ran a website called "Sanger's Review of Y2K News Reports" (formerly at [1]), a resource for Y2K watchers.


[edit] Nupedia and Wikipedia

He was employed by Jimmy Wales' Bomis company as Editor-in-Chief of Nupedia. Responding to frustrations with the slow progress of Nupedia, in January 2001 Sanger proposed the creation of a wiki to spur the development of articles [2], and the result of this proposal was Wikipedia. By virtue of his position with Nupedia, Sanger spearheaded and named the project, and formulated much of the original policy. Sanger was the only paid editor of Wikipedia, a status he held from January 15, 2001, until his resignation on March 1, 2002. Sanger is considered the co-founder of Wikipedia alongside Wales; however, in about 2004 Wales began to reject crediting Sanger with the honorary appellation, calling himself the sole founder and, while describing Sanger's role as important, emphasized his status as an employee under Wales' direction.<ref>CIO News Alerts, September 26, 2006 - Jimmy Wales is being cited as saying "He used to work for me. I don’t agree with calling him a co-founder, but he likes the title." at the IDC European IT Forum in Paris</ref>

Sanger worked on and promoted both the Nupedia and Wikipedia projects until Bomis had to discontinue funding for his position in February 2002. Sanger resigned as editor-in-chief of Nupedia and as "chief organizer" of Wikipedia (he never claimed an official title) shortly thereafter.<ref>My resignation--Larry Sanger, March 1, 2002</ref> Sanger's stated reason for ending his participation in Wikipedia and Nupedia as a volunteer was that he could not do justice to the task as a part-time volunteer. Later, in December 2004, he wrote a critical article for the website Kuro5hin, in which he admitted that there had existed "a certain poisonous social or political atmosphere in the project" that had also accounted for his departure. Nupedia made little progress without his leadership and shut down the following year, but Wikipedia continued to grow and gain momentum.

While claiming "to appreciate the merits of Wikipedia fully" and to know and support "the mission and broad policy outlines of Wikipedia very well," Sanger maintained that there are serious problems with the project. There was, he wrote, a lack of public perception of credibility, and the project put "difficult people, trolls, and their enablers" into too much prominence; these problems, he maintained, were a feature of the project's "anti-elitism, or lack of respect for expertise." The article was the subject of much controversy in the blogosphere and led to some reaction in the news media as well.

[edit] Authorship of the Wikipedia concept

There has been debate about Sanger’s role in the creation of Wikipedia and the extent to which he has been given accurate credit for his contributions. Sanger has claimed variously to have “conceived of” Wikipedia and to have co-founded it, which Jimmy Wales has disputed. Part of the disparity in outlook may lie in the difference between the terms “open source” and “wiki” and Nupedia versus Wikipedia. Sanger concedes that it was Wales alone who conceived of an encyclopedia that non-experts could contribute to, i.e., the Nupedia. “To be clear, the idea of an open source, collaborative encyclopedia, open to contribution by ordinary people, was entirely Jimmy’s, not mine” (emphasis in original text). However, Sanger maintains that it was he who brought the wiki concept to Wales and suggested it be applied to Nupedia and that, after some initial skepticism, Wales agreed to try it. (Wales has claimed that Jeremy Rosenfeld first suggested the idea of a wiki to him, though he claimed earlier, in October 2001, that "Larry had the idea to use Wiki software" [3].) Sanger also maintains that he “came up with the name 'Wikipedia', a silly name for what was at first a very silly project.” <ref>The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir - Slashdot, retrieved February 20, 2006</ref>

[edit] After Wikipedia

Sanger rejoined the academic world as a lecturer at Ohio State University, where he taught philosophy until June 2005. His professional interests are epistemology (in particular), early modern philosophy, and ethics. In his spare time, he plays and teaches Irish traditional music on the fiddle in Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, and also manages a site about the Donegal fiddle tradition.

In December 2005, Digital Universe Foundation announced that Sanger had been hired as Director of Distributed Content Programs,<ref>Digital Universe - Lawrence Sanger, accessed February 21, 2006 </ref> where he will lead the Digital Universe Encyclopedia content resource of the larger web project to be launched in early 2006.<ref>Digital Universe Seeks to Become Free 'PBS of the Web' - press release, Digital Universe, January 17, 2006</ref> Unlike Wikipedia, the Digital Universe encyclopedia plans to bring in recognized experts to certify the accuracy of user-submitted articles as well as to write articles themselves. The first step in this effort is the Encyclopedia of Earth.

In April 2006, Sanger published "Text and Collaboration: A personal manifesto for the Text Outline Project" arguing for the importance of what he called "strong collaboration" (that is, collaboration in which people work on the parts they're interested and nobody gets to claim control), the possibility that strong collaboration could be more effective with a less anarchistic set of ground rules than Wikipedia, and the creation of a new Text Outline Project to create The Book of the World, featuring summaries of the arguments of the great philosophers, organized by topic and time, along with summaries of their debates.<ref>Larry Sanger, "Text and Collaboration: A personal manifesto for the Text Outline Project",, April 2006 (accessed 8 August 2006)</ref>

At the Wizards of OS conference in September 2006, Sanger announced a fork of Wikipedia, named Citizendium. The objectives of the fork are to address various perceived flaws in the Wikipedia system. The main differences will be no anonymous editing - every author/editor will have to be identified by his/her real name, no "top-down" hierarchy of editors, and to aspire to be a "real encyclopedia". More differences are discussed in the FAQ. The initial fork will be only of the English language Wikipedia.

Sanger took a "leave of absence" from Digital Universe, announced on 27 September 2006, "in order to set up a fully independent Citizendium Foundation".<ref>Citizendium-l: Citizendium launch plan as of September 26, message by Larry Sanger.</ref>

[edit] Notes


[edit] Reference

  • "Larry Sanger creates a new Wikipedia" Jewish Chronicle, October 27 2006, p.10

[edit] External links

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Larry Sanger

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