What do you do when you have an urgent question that needs answering? Or, if you are working on that urgent assignment that needs to be submitted? Well, it’s likely that you perform a Google search, or head over to Wikipedia. The latter has proved to be a quintessential, ubiquitous library of sorts, giving everyone access to knowledge – for free. In the spirit of giving back to this invaluable resource, Amazon has made a generous grant of $1 Mn to it’s parent organization.
Apart from helping the general public answer random questions that catch their fancy, complete assignments, and prepare for exams, Wikipedia plays a key role in powering many of the services offered by prominent tech companies. For example, have you ever wondered exactly how Alexa answers you when you ask it about the battle of Waterloo for instance? Well, it draws upon the knowledge archives of Wikipedia.
Amazon is not alone. Multiple other tech companies also depend upon Wikipedia and it’s repositories which are crowd-sourced, moderated and include content that ranges from articles, to images, to videos, mostly under the public domain.
Recently, these companies started upon drive to give back to Wikipedia. Amazon marked itself absent from the initial round, which saw companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google match around $50,000 from employee donations. However, it has now made a very generation donation of it’s own and contributed $1 Mn to Wikipedia parent, Wikimedia.
Speaking on the topic with TechCrunch, Amazon said:
Alexa leverages hundreds of sources to answer questions, including Wikipedia. The Alexa team shares a similar vision with Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation: To make it easier to share knowledge globally.
While the ‘hundreds of sources’ could be an attempt to downplay Wikipedia’s importance, I don’t see others receiving a $1 Mn grant from Amazon. This alone should serve to underline the increasing importance Wikipedia, and multiple other crowdsourced platforms are coming to play on the global stage. Other companies are coming to rely heavily on such sources as well. While Apple’s Siri also leverages Wikipedia in a manner similar to Alexa, Facebook is using it to battle it’s fake news problem, while YouTube is relying upon it to weed out video genres it does not deem suitable for its platform.
Meanwhile, a new skill called “Alexa donate to Wikipedia” is also available, and will allow people to donate easily to the ultimate public library on the web.