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This is an IFS 2015 liveblog which means everything was written at-the-moment. 

IFS welcomed Mr Wikipedia for what most everyone would consider the week’s main event.

Jimmy Wales, who founded the internet encyclopaedia, said he was here to frighten the crowd with news just how fast everything is changing, and then show how you capitalize on the pace of said change.

He used the example of the US interstate highways, which turned a 62 day cross country trip into one that can be done in three or four days. But it wasn’t  a travel disruption he wanted to talk about, it was a restaurant disruption.

The McDonald’s boom came as the US built its road infrastructure, a sort of cause-and-effect. This, Wales said, is a second-order disruption. And it’s this sort of thing that the smartphone is triggering all over the place.

Wales clearly got this year’s IFS memo: Talk about Uber.

The internet entrepreneur observed that one second-order disruption caused by a development in the telecommunications industry (the smartphone) was the taxi revolution.

But what’s next? Wales posited that the arrival of driverless cars (‘in 10 years time max’) will be something Uber will be rubbing their hands at – an opportunity to cut costs (and jobs).

But what about the second-order impact? Here Wales (and his brother’s whose brainchild this is) showed his silly side. He said perhaps driverless cars will disrupt pizza delivery, with car-based robot pizza makers speeding up the process.

Uber’s superfast rise was achieved, like Wikipedia, with little to no ad budget. It was based on word-of-mouth, seizing on the volume offered by social media endorsements.

Word of Mouth – “stronger today than ever before” – is one of three things that Wales highlighted in his talk as pivotal to the new internet economy.

There’s also Platform, like and Kickstarter, which serves customer/audience interaction. His Wikia project, on which people build a community around a subject, is a key example.

And finally Long Tail, which basically refers to specificity. He points to Amazon, which reports that 20-35% of their book sales is of books that aren’t carried by traditional retailers.

“Disruption will either blow you away or give you the best opportunity you’ve ever had”

At the point, Wales offered some tidbits about his Wikipedia experience. The community, he told us, is 87% male with an average age of 26. The available information indicates that most Wikipedia contributors are computer geeks, who are predominantly male.

To further grow this community, Wikipedia is investing in a new editing suite with less Wikicode which appears less intimidating to computing newbies (and women).

But this analysis of Wikipedia led Wales to the ultimate disruptor: the internet.

Countries in the developing world, particularly in Africa are rapidly increasing their connectivity. Nigeria, the continent’s most populated country, has seen its interneted people increase from 0.1% in 2001 to more than 11% in 2011.

Add to that the availability of smartphones with specs equivalent to the original iPhone for costs as low as $31 has the potential to create an enormous new market, and greatly improve the standards of living.

Wikipedia is already making inroads in Africa, with its Wikipedia Zero initiative offering free access to the site via phone contracts. What all this can kick off is anyone’s guess.

Finally, if you have an iPhone or other iOS mobile device, you can view a short Periscope video recording on your device of part of Jimmy Wales’s keynote talk:

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