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Wikipedia’s Model Follows Hayek

April 17, 2009

Regarding Gordon Crovitz’s “Wikipedia’s Old-Fashioned Revolution” (Information Age, April 6): The genesis of Wikipedia was an economics class that Jimmy Wales took when he was a student at Auburn University. Taught by Mark Thornton, much of the discussion centered around the 1945 paper by Nobel-winner F.A. Hayek titled “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”

That paper argued that socialism with its central planning simply could not keep up with the real knowledge in society because the kind of knowledge needed to power an economy is dispersed in society and cannot be brought together with central planning, with its political arrogance. Instead, it is brought together via a price system and private property, the key ingredients of a market economy.

Mr. Wales brought that concept to Wikipedia, and that is why it has flourished. The founding truth of Wikipedia also is the truth behind the reason that President Barack Obama’s attempt at a “planned economy” will fail, as all socialist or quasi-socialist “experiments” always do.

William L. Anderson
Frostburg, Md.

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One comment

  1. Jimmy Wales did not actually take an economics class from me at Auburn University. He was an Auburn University student who used the library at the Ludwig von Mises Institute where I was working. He asked a lot of very good tough questions, one of which led to the recommendation that he read the Hayek AER 1945 article.



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