The Wikipedians consider themselves as the Great Library’s heirs, their mission the gathering of all recorded knowledge. [...]

Like the imaginary library of Borges, Wikipedia begins to appear boundless. [...] The English Wikipedia began with one article and then a jungle grew. [...]

Alone among the great enterprises of the early Internet, Wikipedia was not a business; made no money, only lost money. It was supported by a nonprofit charity established for the purpose. By the time the encyclopedia had 50 million users daily, the foundation had a payroll of eighteen people [...] and everyone else was a volunteer: the millions of contributors, the thousand or more designated “administrators,” and, always a looming presence, the founder and self-described “spiritual leader,” Jimmy Wales. Wales did not plan initially the scrappy, chaotic, dilettantish, amateurish, upstart free-for-all that Wikipedia quickly became. [...] A “wiki,” from a Hawaiian word for “quick,” was a website that could be not just viewed but edited, by anyone. A wiki was therefore self-created, or at least self-sustaining.


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