Some of you may know that I was in Berlin, Germany attending the Wikimedia Diversity Conference [1].

I presented on the language diversity in India and the kind of challenges and opportunities it presents to the Wikimedia movement at large.  Other than reflecting on the work Wikimedia communities in India, WMIN and CIS-A2K are doing, I have also proposed and talked briefly about a new project called WikiSpeech.

As per the 2013 PLSI there are 780 languages in India and we have just about 20 Indian language Wikipedias. Most of these languages are oral cultures and are spoken by small pockets of the population. Thus it may not make much sense for these communities to have a Wikipedia or any of the Wikimedia projects that are text/script intensive.  I deeply believe that WikiSpeech can go a long way in preserving the language diversity in India and the world at large.   I was thinking through a model based on the work done by a) George A. Grierson during 1898-1928 (the first Linguistic Survey of India); b) the recent PLSI work (2013); c) CG Net Swara (which effectively leveraged mobile in creating a community led journalistic venture in the tribal language of Gonds of central India); and d) www.pad.ma (a platform that allows one to annotate visual and audio. The code is open-source).

These are initial ideas and are very much unbaked.  The presentation, I did, only has one slide and may not give a lot of detail, but if any one of you is interested, I will be more than glad to discuss this off-list.  I have also had a long conversation with Gerard Meijssen about Wiki-Data and the possibilities of opening up knowledge for diverse linguistic communities in India.

You can find the link to the presentation [2] and the etherpad [3]. A Round-up session on Geographic diversity and Language pluralism on Wikimedia was also organized. You can see brief discussion here [4].

I am thankful to the Wikimedia Diversity Conference organizers for the travel and stay scholarship they have provided.  Look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on, if and how could we develop these ideas further.


[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Diversity_Conference
[2] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:So_Many_Languages-_Challenges_and_Opportunities_for_the_Wikimedia_Movement_in_India.pdf
[3] https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/wikimedia-movement-india
[4] https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/roundup3