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Grants:Project/Fieldback Catalytics

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statusnot selected
Fieldback Catalytics
summaryPartner with the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community, offline internet initiatives, and local champions in offline communities to better understand how offline content and services are actually being used, and how they can be improved, both for and by the users.
amount79,200 USD
granteeAdam HoltEric Nitschke
contact• holt(_AT_)unleashkids.org
organization• Fieldback
this project needs...
created on07:45, 21 February 2020 (UTC)

Project idea


What is the problem you're trying to solve?


What problem are you trying to solve by doing this project? This problem should be small enough that you expect it to be completely or mostly resolved by the end of this project. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

The digital divide is effectively growing rather than shrinking, as low-latency / gigabit-per-second connections become increasingly common in wealthy countries, with content/interactions increasingly tuned to such environments, leaving billions behind.

According to the ITU, as of 2019 over 46% of the global population, roughly 3.6 billion people, do not use the internet. The rate at which new users are connecting to the internet is slowing, and those who are already online often have unreliable and affordable access. Offline digital experiences are not only growing, but also raise profound questions around education choices for our entire entire civilization in the coming decade.

Lack of network infrastructure for connectivity and costs of devices and data are significant barriers to access, but lack of literacy and skills are equally impeding. The 2019 annual report from the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development states, “in recent years, due to the rapidly declining price of connectivity and hardware, skills deficits have eclipsed barriers of access as a primary driver of digital gender divides”. Closing educational gaps in offline communities will help bring more people online in a safe and meaningful way.

There are several initiatives which aim to do just this, including but not limited to, Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB) [internet-in-a-box.org], Kiwix, RACHEL, Kolibri, and eGranary. These projects enable communities to bring online educational content and services to the offline world, curated and localized for their own context.

Schools, libraries, community networks, health clinics, and a myriad of others are using these types of platforms to enable users to gain new skills and improve their education. Those of us who work internationally in such communities know these platforms are used for game playing, sharing media, zooming in and out with OpenStreetMaps, etc. We know they’re reading Wikipedia articles and e-books, perusing Stack Exchange and Overflow forums, and watching Khan Academy Videos and TED talks. What we don’t know is which ones and why. We don’t know what they like or don’t, and we don’t know what content and services they WANT to use, not only for consumption, but for production and sharing, of digital art, music, wiki articles, games, websites, and silly cat videos.

This project aims to get communities the data they need to improve their own offline experience and acquire the digital know-how to connect and protect their communities in a rapidly changing world.

What is your solution to this problem?


For the problem you identified in the previous section, briefly describe how you would like to address this problem. We recognize that there are many ways to solve a problem. We’d like to understand why you chose this particular solution, and why you think it is worth pursuing. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

Fieldback is a global/grassroots group comprised of stakeholders working independently on educational and connectivity initiatives, with a shared interest in understanding and improving offline infrastructure and services. As part of this group, we propose to work increasingly closely with the Wikipedia and Wikimedia communities, offline initiatives, and local champions in offline communities to understand how offline content and services are actually being used, and how they can be improved, both for and by the users.

We propose the integration of an analytics service into one of the most widely used and open offline platforms, Internet-in-a-Box (IIAB), to better understand offline usage patterns. IIAB provides one of the largest selections of content and services and has a track record of working collaboratively with the Wiki community, Kiwix, and other NGOs in the same space. IIAB can be run on a standalone device (like a Raspberry Pi), or added to an existing local network. (Thousands of IIAB learning hotspots have been sold by independent distributors, and are in use in more than 20 developing countries worldwide).

This work will also involve hardware integration with real-time clock (RTC) peripherals, as Raspberry Pis generally lack this essential piece (an RTC clock). Worse, even those IIAB units that do have an RTC clock attached, have proved unreliable at keeping the time, due to the high-failure rate of today's mass market RTC clocks. So engineering and qualifying reliable clock hardware is an essential first step to move forward.

Then, once a richer analytics framework (software at multiple levels for IIAB) is in place, we will work closely with field leaders to install the platform in approximately 4 communities initially. These can include schools, libraries, community networks, and health clinics. With community expertise on responsible and ethical data collection, and our project partners and advisors, we will develop a process through which user data will be collected working with constituent communities, and then analyzed.

Based on ongoing data analysis, iterative recommendations will be made for improving content and services in different field communities, and methods by which data can be collected and used in the future. Especially by the communities themselves, as well as WMF and the projects it supports like Kiwix, WikiProject Medical and others.

Project goals


What are your goals for this project? Your goals should describe the top two or three benefits that will come out of your project. These should be benefits to the Wikimedia projects or Wikimedia communities. They should not be benefits to you individually. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

  • Objective 1: Make it easier for offline communities to collect usage data.
  • Objective 2: Four offline communities install IIAB with full wiki-suite and analytics service.
  • Objective 3: New insights into user engagement patterns help communities improve offline content and services.

Project impact


How will you know if you have met your goals?


For each of your goals, we’d like you to answer the following questions:

  1. During your project, what will you do to achieve this goal? (These are your outputs.)
  2. Once your project is over, how will it continue to positively impact the Wikimedia community or projects? (These are your outcomes.)

For each of your answers, think about how you will capture this information. Will you capture it with a survey? With a story? Will you measure it with a number? Remember, if you plan to measure a number, you will need to set a numeric target in your proposal (i.e. 45 people, 10 articles, 100 scanned documents). Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

For Objective 1:

  • Output: Install a modern analytics service/software in IIAB.
  • Outcomes:
  1. Offline Communities are able to collect and export usage data in a user-friendly way.
  2. Document usage of service and IIAB integration; commit to Github.
  3. Other offline platforms and communities are able to see how to install and use the analytics service.

For Objective 2:

  • Output: Capacity building workshops are conducted online with local champions from selected deployments which show how to install IIAB, curate content, and export analytics data.
  • Outcomes:
  1. Four communities are able to access and use offline content and services, including Wikipedia.
  2. Local champions acquire technical skills.

For Objective 3:

  • Outputs:
  1. A framework for ‘ethical analytics’ is developed for offline projects.
  2. Data is collected from the deployments and analyzed.
  3. A report is written that summarizes usage patterns.
  • Outcomes:
  1. Utilizing proposed framework, document what content and services are most/least accessed, how consumption varies across deployment types for the selected deployments.
  2. Recommendations are made for adapting UX and technology to improve engagement and educational outcomes, and increasing the number of Wiki users.
  3. Recommendations are made for a follow-up project, that explore: Users can see global offline stats - and use this to determine which content to pull locally. Which content do different deployment types prefer? Where is there social/demographic overlap? Federation syncing determined by dashboard data. Ability for users to opt-in to share user-generated content. How can deployments use their own data to get funding? Creation of reporting templates to show impact. Identification of where WMF funding would be most impactful. Sneakerneting and new methods of data from deployments.

Do you have any goals around participation or content?


Are any of your goals related to increasing participation within the Wikimedia movement, or increasing/improving the content on Wikimedia projects? If so, we ask that you look through these three metrics, and include any that are relevant to your project. Please set a numeric target against the metrics, if applicable.

This project will directly bring more offline users of Wikimedia through the deployments, and help give organizations like WMF and Kiwix the evidence they need to increase participation.

Project plan




Tell us how you'll carry out your project. What will you and other organizers spend your time doing? What will you have done at the end of your project? How will you follow-up with people that are involved with your project?

  1. Project Management: Coordination and communications throughout 12 months.
  2. IIAB Analytics Software Integration: Month 1 - Selection, Month 2 - Development begins.
  3. Local Champion Workshops and Installations - Preliminary installs, Customization and Data collection begin, starting in Month 3.
  4. Troubleshooting: Help deployments with technical and social issues, months 4-12.
  5. Analysis: Ethical analytics framework building and analysis throughout. Creation of final report in final month.



How you will use the funds you are requesting? List bullet points for each expense. (You can create a table later if needed.) Don’t forget to include a total amount, and update this amount in the Probox at the top of your page too!

  • Kick-off Online Workshop, with Grantees and interested parties like the Offline Wiki group - July: 4,000
  • Part-time hardware/software developer(s): 24,000
  • Analytics advisor(s): 12,000
  • Local Deployments (4 x 2,500K for materials/shipping/installation support): 10,000
  • Ongoing troubleshooting (online work with local champions to customize content and troubleshoot installs): 12,000
  • Wikimania Online Workshop: 4,000
  • Project Management & Unexpected Costs 20%: 13,200
  • Total: 79,200

Community engagement


How will you let others in your community know about your project? Why are you targeting a specific audience? How will you engage the community you’re aiming to serve at various points during your project? Community input and participation helps make projects successful.

We will engage with various communities at the Kick-off Online Workshop, WikiMania, and through online workshops and trainings.

Get involved




Please use this section to tell us more about who is working on this project. For each member of the team, please describe any project-related skills, experience, or other background you have that might help contribute to making this idea a success.


  • Adam Holt coordinates the Internet-in-a-Box community of free and open source hardware/software builders, who work every day to create and refine this community product. Some of these are field implementers and educators in poor countries, some of these are R&D and QA engineers in rich countries, and many lie in between. http://internet-in-a-box.org
  • Eric Nitschke is CEO/Founder at Wakoma, working at the intersection of educational and communication technologies. https://twitter.com/EricNitschke
  • Avni Khatri/Fein is president of Kids on Computers, a 501(c)(3) organization of volunteers that sets up computer labs in developing communities using donated equipment and free and open source software (including Internet-in-a-Box). The organization has set up over 25 labs across six countries to date. She is also a senior manager at Amazon in the Alexa AI Natural Understanding organization. http://kidsoncomputers.org


  • Lane Rasberry, user:bluerasberry, University of Virginia School of Data Science / Center for Data Ethics and Justice
  • David Johnson is an adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department of the University of Cape Town. He has over 18 years experience in software and telecommunications engineering research and development. https://people.cs.uct.ac.za/~djohnson/


  • Partner with grantees on project execution. Avni321 (talk) 23:41, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Michaelgraaf (talk) 09:07, 23 February 2020 (UTC) Community informatics practitioner

Community notification


You are responsible for notifying relevant communities of your proposal, so that they can help you! Depending on your project, notification may be most appropriate on a Village Pump, talk page, mailing list, etc.--> Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?



Do you think this project should be selected for a Project Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  1. Michaelgraaf (talk) 09:04, 23 February 2020 (UTC)There is potential for synergy between IIAB installation analytics and analytic aspects of the offline Wiki installations in set-top boxes on which I am working. Both stand to benefit from a return path.
  2. Support The Wikimedia Foundation 2018 annual report listed the offline deployment of Wikipedia first on its list of major projects for the year. This proposal is the next Wikipedia community project from the same team which organized the program which the Wikimedia Foundation itself featured as a flagship accomplishment of 2018. The entire project has different teams for hardware, software (which is Kiwix), content, social systems, and wiki-style editing workflows, but in general, Kiwix is the most independent part of this and all the other parts are tied into this proposal. More than any other single person, Adam Holt has been the leading organizer for deployment of hardware containing Wikipedia and also he one of the lead team members writing this funding request. This proposal aims to address a major long term gap in preparing for multicultural engagement in technological communication which the Wikimedia Movement needs to start addressing now, with the challenge being to document and plan to respond to the cultural and ethical considerations of organizing Wikipedia deployments at scale globally. The sooner we talk about ethics, the more money and resources we save in the long term by preventing problems that we pay to correct later or by avoiding harm to contributors. We have to be realistic and transparent that Wikipedia and all its infrastructure has a Western bias, and that by taking it to non-Western cultures, we need planning to include local people, minimize harm, and escalate lessons learned. Straightforward ethical and cultural discussion is no reason for anyone to feel ashamed, and listing multicultural challenges is something that the Wikipedia community should celebrate.
    Here is some past documentation of the sort this team has produced:
    As a contributor to Wikimedia Medicine I have been a long time supporter of offline Wikipedia development. We have a long history of demonstrated community interest, Wikimedia Foundation interest, and external partner interest in this. It is timely now to sort out ethical issues because we have an interested team, we have to do this eventually, and the cost of sorting ethics only increases as a project grows. This proposal is a pathway to a developing a good foundation in ethical practices for this project. I agree to be an advisor in this from the University of Virginia School of Data Science where I have an appointment in both the Center for Ethics and Justice and our Open Hardware Lab. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:10, 25 February 2020 (UTC)
  3. Mixed views on this. On one hand, it is certainly useful (at least the goal described is useful, I can not comment on the technical practicalities. I trust them on that matter :)), and the people proposing the grant request are known and trusted individuals working on that topic. BUT, I am a bit annoyed to discover that grant proposition only because I have decided today to run a full review of *all* grants being proposed in that round. I read that the goal is to Partner with the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community, offline internet initiatives, and local champions in offline communities to better understand how offline content and services are actually being used, and how they can be improved, both for and by the users.. I actually do consider myself as mother of an offline internet initiative (wikifundi), plus running two offline education programs (WikiChallenge Ecoles d'Afrique/en (successful, operating for the 3rd year) and WikiChallenge Bénin (in birth stage). Plus I am one of the two contacts of the Wikimedians for offline wikis UG. And I am fairly sure I was not informed at any stage, nor did I see any, even super short, information provided on the UG ML. So... I am simply a bit perplex when it is presented as a sort of partnership when no information was provided about it. I fully acknowledge that proposing a grant is complicated, time consuming, energy consuming and all that. But... how come there was not at least a short info provided to the offline group ? (such as "eh guys, we propose this grant. Please come and tell us what you think and support if you think it is worth supporting"). The only community engagement I see is "English wikipedia project medicine" and launch in Boston. Hmmm... I fear this is not a super good start when it comes to engaging the community. Language/Country centric approach. Perhaps a useful project, but not a super collaborative approach I think. Anthere (talk)