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

Anthony wikimail at inbox.org
Sun May 31 12:34:33 UTC 2009

On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 10:38 PM, Brian <Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu> wrote:

> I propose a cheap cellphone-sized device (OWPP) whose only purpose is to
> read Wikipedia.

That's probably both the wrong form (too small) and the wrong content (too
flighty) for people permanently without access to the Internet (who
presumably also are without access to television - otherwise why not beam
Wikipedia through whatever network carries the television signal?).  The
vast majority of content would be useless to someone in that situation.
What they need is the information to get themselves into a better living
situation - to get that Internet access.  That's what I would want, anyway.
Put me in a third world country with little education, no television, no
Internet, no good schools, no job opportunities, etc., and then give me a
picture of how people live in the rest of the world.  I don't want
Wikipedia.  I want a basic high school education and admittance to a
university somewhere else.  Most likely I don't need Wikipedians to provide
me with *anything* to accomplish this, but a high-school level wikibooks
collection geared toward people in environments without Internet access
wouldn't hurt if there was really no one else in my town who could teach me.

How many people are in this situation, though?  How many people have
absolutely no Internet access, not just in their homes, but in their entire
towns, have no access to a school or library, and have no means to escape to
another town where the situation is better?  And is this something
Wikipedians can directly help fix?

Maybe the WMF could offer scholarships to one person in each such town (for
as many towns as there are funds for).  They would set up a private school
(in name, it need not be a separate building), for children or adults, and
the WMF provide them with the information they need to run the program
(geared to their requests) and hopefully work with another organization to
provide some funding.  If it's a matter of providing 100 people with
cell-phone like devices or 1 person with a desktop PC and continuing
updates, isn't the latter cheaper and just as effective?  Or is the
political situation so bad that the PC will get stolen while the cell phones
might be kept hidden?

In any case, I think a small targetted wikibooks collection is going to be
more useful than Wikipedia.

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