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

Brian Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu
Sun May 31 02:38:33 UTC 2009

Given currently existing technology, and technology that we can reasonably
assume to be available within the next decade, how can the WMF best achieve
its goal of giving every person free access to our current best summary of
all human knowledge?

Consider that Google Translate has the best machine translation corpus,
consisting not only of the Internet but also all United Nations translations
and many other datasets. It is the closest existing thing to a Babelfish,
now supporting 41 languages and winning all translation competitions for
several years. It will continue to be the best for the foreseeable future.

Consider that 75% of the world is not online and that there may be a way to
beat market forces in the race to getting free Internet access to every
person by literally giving Wikipedia to every person instead, offline. Our
current micro-content distribution model would be sufficient if everyone had
access to the Internet. They don't so it's not.

Consider that the money the WMF could potentially raise through competitive
market forces (the OLPC way) may lag behind the money they can raise through
their idealistic goals, uncompromised values and principles, and smart
ideas. This money can be used to give copies of the entirety of Wikipedia

Consider that access to Wikipedia does not require readability proper
(beautiful prose), just the ability to comprehend the information, and just
barely. The human brain is the most powerful translator in existence, we
just have to meet said brain halfway. We may see a meta language in our
lifetimes but not within the next decade. The current best meta language is
a set of fuzzy translations that are a function of the size of the source
and target language corpuses.

I propose a cheap cellphone-sized device (OWPP) whose only purpose is to
read Wikipedia. The WMF teams up with Google to obtain CC-BY-SA translations
from all supported source languages to all supported target languages. The
device holds just one copy of all of the Wikipedia's in a single target

The technical specifications of such a device allow for it to be extremely
Let's let those of us fortunate enough to have access to the Internet
write an encyclopedia and give it to those who are not,
sooner rather than later.


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