I should add that monitoring recent changes on small
Wikipedias, I was initially very skeptical of your plans and figured
that they would be unfruitful.
Well, initially they were :)
Although it took a while since when you first posted
about possible payment for articles, you have shown me to be wrong on
this subject and for that I am very happy.
I was too optimistic about what would be the right incentive (200 CFA is too little).
An issue I have, though, is: how many speakers of
Bamana and Fulfulde
have access to the internet, to actually read these articles? How many
even have access to a computer?
1) Very very little.
2) A bit more.
Another question: how many speakers of Bamanan and Fulfulde are actually able to read?
Quite some more, but only very very optimistic estimations are higher than 30%. It's
more likely to be 10% or so.
I know that the hope is that at some
point in the future, more people will be able to read these articles,
but shouldn't their very creation go hand-in-hand with wider
disemination of internet technologies in Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso,
Definitely. I have some ideas to get this done. There are internet centers (CLICs)
struggling to get by. Geekcorps Mali just started to buy of a lot of their time, in
order to disseminate vouchers in communities. One idea is to give them to people who
write for Wikipedia. Good for the CLICs, who are happy to give out vouchers, and good
for the people, who can use the internet for free. It's also much easier to get done
than giving out money. And it will lead to a healthier CLIC - often ONGs have been too
eager to implement solutions that aren't viable in the long run.
I know there has been some activity to install the
at local radio stations, but what about the non-broadcasting public,
There is a lot activity there as well. Often one internet connection is shared by
radio station, hospital, CLIC and municipality office.
BTW, most Geekcorps Mali partner radios aren't equipped with internet yet. Geekcorps
first wants to make sure that people at the radio actually use the computer for their
radio shows. However, I did add the wik2dicted French and Bambara Wikipedias to
Kunnafonix, the one-question-GNU/Linux-installCD. With fellow Geek Sebastian I also
added the creation of Debian packages to wik2dict, in order to make it easier to get
this stuff spreaded.
And now I actually want to write software for mobile phones, something like
Tomeraider, but then Free. Not that it will run on many of the mobile phones right now
in Mali, but it will in the near future. And I would like to have some kind of
client thing. Some Java client that can easily be copied to other phones in the
neigbourhood, that can find and access a DICT server running on a phone that has
enough memory. Maybe some of you know of another compressed hypertext format that does
include images? I like DICT for its spead and simplicity, but it lacks images...
The possession rate of mobile phones in Mali is probably something like 1%. But many
mobile phones are often used by entire families, just like fixed lines in the rich
world. And an African family is somewhat larger than a western family...
But maybe this all sounds too optimistic. But it also seems interesting to get in
touch with African mobile phone operators to set up a service where people can access
information. The colonial language Wikipedias are already interesting enough to get
this done. Read out live even by flesh-and-blood persons when there's no ogg version
Another thing to take a look at is text-to-speech synths. It's a challenge to write
interface to access Wikipedia, that can be used by people who are not able to read.
If somebody could set up some sort of "free
Bamako, with time-limits to prevent one person from using the computer
all the time, and offer classes in how to operate computers, I'm sure
that would help.
My fellow Geek Frederic has set up a community centre with a bunch of computers and
Skolelinux. In one of the poorest areas of Bamako. And it's exactly people at this
centre who wrote (and are still writing) the largest part of the articles. To get
internet access there would cost them a fortune - 120 US$ a month IIRC. I will upload
some video of Frederic teaching them how to write HTML. I think the most interesting
is that this highly successful project was mostly funded by no less than... Frederic
What I haven't mentioned in this message yet: The existence of an encyclopedia in
their own language, written by themselves, will probably give people a boost of
confidence in their language. Currently there is a huge lack of information in
general, and information in African languages especially. Many people don't see the
reason to actually learn how to read and write in their mother tongue. They just learn
French (or English in poor Anglophone countries). Literacy rates would definitely be
higher if there were more texts in African languages. But then again, the price of
paper (or computer use) will always be too high for someone struggling to get her