[Foundation-l] One Wikipedia Per Person (regarding the distribution of and the ability to read Wikipedia)

Anthony wikimail at inbox.org
Tue Jun 2 18:58:49 UTC 2009

On Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 8:14 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>wrote:
> While I can't imagine how I managed it now, I don't remember
> struggling with browsing Wikipedia on a 56K modem. In fact, I think I
> browsed it on a 36.6K modem... If it is what you are used to, it
> really doesn't seem that bad.

As long as you can download an article (with images) faster than you can
read it, it at least serves the basic purpose of providing access to

But in my opinion Wikipedia (like any encyclopedia) is an absolutely
terrible source of knowledge standing alone.  An encyclopedia can provide a
broad outline of a topic to evaluate which topics you are interested in
learning more about, point you to some resources for further reading, and
remind you of the answer to some specific questions as they come up, but an
encyclopedia cannot stand alone.  Education requires access to the rest of
the library as well.  And it also requires things that probably won't be
found in any library (or Wikibook).  How to bribe the local police comes to
mind.  And then there's the whole world which is excluded from Wikimedia
projects for being allegedly "POV".  Perhaps if the definition of "POV" had
been better designed this wouldn't be such a problem, but considering that
WP:POV says such things as "Hard facts are really rare", I think it's quite
obvious NPOV knowledge is not sufficient.

So unless you're going to create a very targeted library for each
individual, I think that means full internet access (even that is quite
incomplete though, especially if you ignore non-free resources like e-books
and audiobooks).  Going through all the trouble of providing a netbook and
wireless connection and then crippling it to only be capable of accessing
Wikipedia (and presumably the rest of the Wikimedia sites) would be
incredibly wasteful.  If full Internet access is too expensive for one
individual, have it shared among many.  If even that is too expensive,
probably because sufficient sharing is infeasible due to low population
density, then the solution should be explicitly temporary.

Enough generalities, though.

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