On January 15th, 2001, a revolutionary website launched with a simple goal: to provide a home for the world’s knowledge. The aim was ambitious, but that wasn’t what captured the imagination – what grabbed people was that this online encyclopedia would be free. Free to read and, more importantly, free to create.
The story of Wikipedia from this point on perfectly shows the three stages in the life of that thing we call Free:
At first, Free was considered impossible; even Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, anticipated that entries would be “complete rubbish”. Next, Free was remarkable. An online encyclopedia created by volunteers and free to access? Incredible! Then, finally, Free was boring. Information is being added to Wikipedia faster than you can read it. It’s normal. When you can get a song or a TV show or a movie for free, of course you should get information for free.