Larry Sanger is an American internet project developer who co-founded Wikipedia along with Jimmy Wales. He is also the founder of the wiki-based free encyclopedia project, Citizendium, which was launched in 2007. A trained philosopher with a focus on epistemology — the study of knowledge, Sanger has been involved with various online encyclopedia projects. Born as the son of a marine biologist, Sanger developed an early interest in philosophy and proceeded to study the subject from Reed College and later on completed his doctorate in the same field from Ohio State University. As a college student he became fascinated with the internet and realized the potential of its publishing abilities. He even set up a listserver to serve as a medium where students and teachers could meet up for tutoring sessions. Sanger was thinking of ideas for a web site when one of his acquaintances, Jimmy Wales, came up with the idea of an online encyclopedia. Thus the Nupedia—the precursor to Wikipedia—was born. However some issues over content management cropped up between Wales and Sanger, and Sanger left the project. Over the ensuing years he launched several internet projects of his own including the Citizendium and Reading Bear. Sanger has also taught philosophy at Ohio State University
Childhood & Early Life
Lawrence Mark "Larry" Sanger was born on July 16, 1968, in Bellevue, Washington. His father was a marine biologist while his mother was a homemaker.
He graduated from high school in 1986. From a young age he displayed an interest in philosophical topics and chose to study philosophy in Reed College and received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1991. While at college, he was exposed to the internet and he soon realized the tremendous potential of the internet as a medium of information exchange.
He set up a listserver for students and tutors to meet up for tutorial sessions and to discuss the possibility of creating a voluntary network where students and teachers could find each other via the internet. He also started and moderated a philosophy discussion list, the Association for Systematic Philosophy.
He went on to complete his Master of Arts in philosophy in 1995 from the Ohio State University. He then earned his Ph.D. from the same university in 2000 with the dissertation ‘Epistemic Circularity: An Essay on the Problem of Meta-Justification’.
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Sanger was discussing possible ideas with his internet acquaintances when Jimmy Wales suggested the concept of an online encyclopedia. Wales had already registered the domain name, Nupedia, and the two men teamed up. Sanger was hired as the editor-in-chief of Nupedia.
Nupedia was officially launched in March 2000 as an English-language Web-based encyclopedia. The articles in the encyclopedia were written by volunteer contributors who had appropriate expertise in the subjects they wrote about. The content then went through a seven-step approval process and was reviewed by expert editors before publication.
The basic guiding principle behind Nupedia was to create content of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. In order to control the quality of content Sanger wanted scholars to volunteer as writers.
Due to the stringent control process, the progress at Nupedia was slow which frustrated both Sanger and Wales. Sanger then suggested that they create a wiki to spur article development and thus the idea for Wikipedia was born.
Wikipedia was officially launched in January 2001. Sanger ran the project during its initial months, and the fast-paced growth of Wikipedia surprised both the founders greatly. However, within months of its launch, issues regarding the content quality crept up between Wales and Sanger.
After endless content battles, Sanger resigned as editor-in-chief of Nupedia and as chief organizer of Wikipedia in March 2002. He then became a lecturer at the Ohio State University, where he taught philosophy until June 2005.
He started working as a Director of Distributed Content Programs in Digital Universe Foundation in December 2005.
In 2007, he launched Citizendium, a wiki-based free encyclopedia that aims to provide high quality, reliable content to the users. Even though the articles are written by volunteers, the content undergoes strict moderating and expert reviews before being published. Sanger had announced at the launch of the project that he would not head Citizendium indefinitely and stepped down as editor-in-chief in 2010.
He has worked at the WatchKnowLearn project, a non-profit organization that focuses on education of young children using online tools. He headed the development of the project from 2008 to 2010 and has served as the executive director of the system.
Sanger worked on developing a web-based reading-tutorial application for beginning readers in 2010-11 which was launched as Reading Bear in 2012. The system uses multimedia presentations such as videos, PowerPoint presentations, and ebooks to aid children in learning how to read.
Larry Sanger was one of the co-founders of the immensely popular free-content Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, which was launched in 2001. Sanger coined its name and formulated much of its original policy.
He is the founder of Citizendium—the citizens' compendium of everything—a wiki-based free encyclopedia project which he launched in 2007. Based on the Wikipedia model, the project aims to achieve higher credibility by strictly moderating the content for increased reliability.
Awards & Achievements
The Wikipedia community, of which Sanger is a part, was awarded the Erasmus Prize in 2015 for the dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally accessible encyclopedia.
Personal Life & Legacy
Larry Sanger is married with two children.