Truth in Numbers

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"This is a resource site for the feature documentary about wikipedia and free digital content, due out in Spring 2008. ANYONE can edit"


"“Imagine a world where everyone had access to the sum of all human knowledge... that’s what we are doing with Wikipedia” – Jimmy Wales

“Crank, crank, crank”**, the sound of gears inside a hand-crank laptop are heard from outside a shack in India. A man in New Delhi who connects to the Internet for the first time is greeted by the Hindi Wikipedia homepage. At the same time, Jimmy Wales, the founder of the website and leading member of the Internet free knowledge movement, gazes out a window on a flight to Hong Kong for a conference regarding the Chinese government’s decision to block from its citizens. While back in the United States, a computer geek is actively engaged in an edit war over the proper definition of Pokemon.

This is the opening montage for the documentary film Truth in Numbers: The Wikipedia Story, an intimate study of the rise of Internet technology and one man’s (and one hundred million volunteers’) quest to provide free knowledge to the entire world. Jimmy Wales created the collaborative online encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to and edit freely utilizing ‘Wiki’ technology. Wikipedia is one of the most important websites alive today. “We built the 17th [now 10th as of Feb 07] most popular website on the internet worldwide, how have we done this? It’s you-- you've done it-- I’ve done it-- we have all done it as volunteers... to me that’s an amazing thing”, Jimmy Wales. Both widely praised and criticized in the media for its user-created encyclopedic, potentially inaccurate, and highly controversial “anyone-can-edit” structure, Wikipedia has quickly become one of the most talked about digital movements of our time.

The site not only offers a wealth of free knowledge to the world, but allows anyone with an Internet connection to create and edit it; making the site a useful form of real-time human documentation and a revolutionary bully-pulpit for everyman. This free, collaborative and populist approach to information collection and dissemination threatens the traditional, editorial and hierarchical structure that pre-existed it. No longer do the victors write the history books, we do: you, me, and everyone else. The Internet has empowered the masses to connect, unite and now, thanks to Wikipedia, to build our history: one unfiltered and, in theory, unbiased worldwide encyclopedia for us, written by us.

The founder of Wikipedia, in order to cover an insider’s look at the global Wikipedia movement, has granted our film crew exclusive access to his travels and Wikipedia’s projects. Structurally, the film follows Mr. Wales as he travels around the world, meeting important leaders, negotiating the future of his site, and fighting to continue world-wide access to free knowledge, interwoven with other Wiki contributors from America, Japan, Germany, Mexico, China, and India to see why they use the site and how Wikipedia changes them. Each unique character shows us more about this dynamic and revolutionary movement as we compare similarities and differences between countries, giving the film a truly world view on this controversial topic. In addition to this, the film gives a chronological representation of the history of Wikipedia: how it has grown up, its representation through the mainstream media, and its future .

Truth in Numbers: The Wikipedia Story will also use in-depth interviews with many influential thinkers to provide legitimate analysis and criticism of the movement. Richard Stallman (developer of the GNU software movement), and Lawrence Lessig (from Creative Commons, the free licensed media foundation) and former vice president Al Gore will discuss how the Internet should be used by society to freely share information. Noam Chomsky: intellectual, political activist, and professor of linguistics, and Howard Zinn author of ‘People’s History of the United states’ will describe the conflict over control of propaganda/information and explain why it’s so important for the masses not only to create, but also to edit their own media and have free access to it. On the flip side, the film will use many college professors, encyclopedia contributors, comedians and academic historians who simply dismiss the Internet free knowledge movement on the basis of its potential inaccuracy." (