Wikipedia Cofounder Jimmy Wales Now to Advise UK


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Wikimedia Foundation boss Jimmy Wales can add one more not-for-profit post to his CV. He'll now be advising the British government on matters of technology, transparency, open policy-making, and political crowdsourcing.

So announced Downing Street top aide Rohan Silva yesterday, in a talk--titled: Open Source Government, Enterprise and Innovation--to the South By Southwest crowd. "(We) must use new technology to recast politics for the 21st century," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. The talk addressed the British Governments "adventures in crowdsourcing," the future of open data, open government and technology policy, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the UK.

Wales will be working pro-bono for the UK government. As a part of his new unpaid position, he will serve across all government departments, and will advise civil servants (that includes Members of Parliament) rather than ministers, reports the Telegraph. Neither the duration of Wales's tenure as adviser nor any specific projects of his have been formally announced.

While nothing's been formally announced, it's not hard to divine Wales's first round of suggestions. He'll probably lead off with the the idea of a legislative "sandbox," where government officials can try out new policies and have them reviewed by anonymous peers before implementing them in the wider political arena. Then he'll likely suggest abolishing the entire UK tax code, replacing the outdated funding platform with a series of annoying banner ads featuring financial pleas from Commonwealth subjects, Members of Parliament, and even the Queen herself. If the government is unable to reach its fundraising goal of some £560 billion by next March, the solution will be simple: the UK will just have to start charging for some of its services. Parking violations will also soon read: "[citation needed]."

Okay, so I made those up. (And if you read the subtitle you know I also recycled a joke. Shame on me.) But here's one real project Wales might have a hand in: The website, currently in beta mode, exists to test the feasibility of consolidating all government websites under a single address. At the moment, Directgov remains the UK's official government website.

Here's what Twitter has to say about the appointment.

Those in favor:

Time to Make Over Govt? RT@davewiner: Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales becoming adviser to British government. 45 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

@jimmy_wales congratulations! Great to have you advising UK gov. Let us know next time you're over, would love to talk 49 minutes ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

And those opposed:

Jimmy Wales working for Govvcorp is not good news. Let's see if he backs ACTA et al now. 55 minutes ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

And one guy that even shares my sense of humor:

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales becoming adviser to British government. Expect "please, can you spare some pennies" banner in Parliament. 1 hour ago via Silver Bird ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Portions of the British Government will also soon be available in over 280 languages, including Esperanto and Simplified English. Or, as the English call it, "American English". I'm still kidding.