Jimmy Wales & Internet Busking
busker – a person who entertains people for money in public places (as by singing or dancing), usually while asking for money
Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, has recently raised over $10.7M and counting for the website. His personal appeal banners became an instant meme, possibly due in part to his intense, sincere gaze.
But as the lulz continue and his campaign is showing great success, thus far, I have to pose the question: Is Jimmy Wales the greatest busker in the history of busking?
As you can see by the opening definition of a busker, the term traditionally applies to entertainers and probably conjures images of musicians, dancers and jugglers performing on a busy street somewhere.
Along with the internet comes the potential for busking on some of the largest intersections in the world. A popular website could see more traffic than even the busiest of street corners. It’s accessible to anyone, anywhere, day or night, come rain or shine.
The internet has also expanded the world of busking beyond artists and entertainers, allowing people to provide a service first, free for all who would use it, while leaving the option of financial compensation up to those who most appreciate it or can best afford it. Wikipedia is great example of a modern service dedicated to providing educational information to anyone in the world who has access, at no cost to the user.
While Wikipedia is not for profit, it is worth mentioning that artists and other providers of entertaining content are turning to providing free access to their content via the internet or even raising funds from prospective fans for projects that are to be made available once complete.
Some recent examples include bittorrent series, Pioneer One, and the documentary scheduled to be released 2011, TPB AFK. Even Justin Bieber was rockin youtube on videos his mom posted. Maybe he never had a donation button for fans, but without the free public display of his talents, he may not have had the honor of becoming the personal property of the RIAA that he is today.
While I’m sure Bieber is happy with his current situation, the internet offers other artists, entertainers and service providers the opportunity to cut out the middle man and share what they have to offer directly to the public. Not only that, but with such affordable and efficient distribution methods as bittorrent currently available to them, they can, quite possibly, reach a wider audience than by attempting to limit access to those who pre-pay. Just ask Paulo Coelho who gives bittorrent a great deal of credit for his success.
From the audience perspective, it is both reasonable and good moral practice that they be given the opportunity to decide whether the entertainment or service being offered is, in fact, entertaining, useful or needed before paying for it. This way of seeking compensation is a much more democratic gauge of the value it holds among society. Rather than limiting what one has to offer to the few, perhaps it is more worthwhile for everyone when it is offered to all in a way that allows those who appreciate having such a service or source of entertainment help to sustain it.
This really tears down a long existing wall between consumer and entertainer/service provider by introducing a symbiotic relationship where the needs of both must continue to be met by each party. It can only be maintained for as long as both party’s needs are being met. It is a much more balanced Yin/Yang approach. It’s more than what Jesus would do; it’s what he did. O_O < Jimmy Wales gaze.
Mr. Wales's ongoing appeal is currently a live demonstration that if a community really appreciates something, they will do what it takes to hold onto it. In case you missed the huge banner at the top of the site, you are welcome to help support Wikipedia by donating here.