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One Encyclopedia Per Child mainly in Simple English[edit]

  • Link to request on mailing list: x
  • Naming suggestions: OEPC (One Encyclopedia Per Child)
  • Domain name: http://en.wikimedia.org/oepc/ (state of registration: Please reserve and open the subdirectory)
  • Scope: The aim of this project is the production of a small corpus in Simple English, called the One Encyclopedia Per Child (OEPC), suitable for ultimate downloading to the One Laptop Per Child.
  • Details: page where the project is thoroughly explained: w:Wikipedia:One_Encyclopedia_Per_Child
  • Proposer: Dr. Ian Geoffrey Kennedy - user page: User:Ian_Geoffrey_Kennedy and email i.kennedy AT ee DOT wits DOT ac DOT za
  • Prototype has been documented. See Frame 1 in [1]
  • People interested joining:


This ties into the general mission of the Wikimedia Foundation to bring knowledge to every single human being on the planet and should probably be coordinated with the newly formed Special projects committee. I disagree that children should be served a "dumbed down" version of Wikipedia content whenever available, but I do agree that an offline reader application which is used to access content should support different reading levels. Content from the Simple English Wikipedia could then be shown at "Beginner Level" when available.

Now, if you want to work with the OLPC project, you first have to understand that the specifications of the laptop include neither a harddisk nor a DVD drive. Therefore, the laptop will only be useful to access the online version of Wikimedia content. So your "new project" essentially boils down to raising awareness of simple.wikipedia.org and making sure that en.wikipedia.org and simple.wikipedia.org articles are well-connected (and possibly presenting the connections between them in a different way).

Now, one interesting project would be to try to set up "Wikipedia stations", essentially about $500-$1000 machines that would include a full copy of Wikipedia (including images) on a fat harddrive, as well as wireless access points, but no actual connection to the Internet. These machines could be strategically positioned in secure places (shopping malls etc.) to allow OLPC users free access to Wikipedia content without access to the Internet as a whole. Possibly the Widernet eGranary project could be combined with such an effort.

But the most important task would surely be to get a DVD version of the English Wikipedia ready. Here, the most obvious collaboration would be with Directmedia, the German company which has made the German Wikipedia DVD and with some prodding (and co-marketing) could perhaps be persuaded to release the source code to their reader application.--Eloquence 18:56, 21 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Reply to comments[edit]

The OEPC is not dumbed down. It is accessible and also has advanced entries. The prototype showed that with few exceptions, material for the desired entries is available at one of the two levels, based entirely on current entries in the Simple English Wikipedia and "DOT en DOT wiki DOT org". A third, starter level could very usefully be included to capture the interests of the very beginner if it has a high (50%) graphic content (assuming that we are talking about a printed proof page). This could be labeled "My first encyclopedia". It can include a graphical A-B-C to get the unschooled child going. If creative commons material is available elsewhere, the OLPC can certainly use that. For example, the A-B-C from Project Gutenberg might be suitable (although it is not coloured).

So that an off-the-shelf reader (Firefox) can be used and also to encourage further exploration where the Web is available, we allow any child to access any reading level. We just need a convention (such as bolding) to warn the adventurous reader that the advanced material might be tough to read, but the rewards could be great.

In general, the targetted children are from developing countries or rural and poor communities. They will not have dial-up or any other Web access from home, but may be lucky to have the ability to download from the Web via the One Laptop Per Teacher at school. The OLPC will be have 1/2 Gigabyte of flash memory and sometimes be networked to the Web at school, from where downloads can be made. Not all of the 1/2 Gigabyte of flash memory will be available for "user data", because the startup program, operating and filing system, and "application programs" such as Firefox, compression software and the ad hoc networking software will all need part of the memory budget to make a functional computer. For example, my full (Windows) Firefox program folder is 19.2 Megabytes.

The prototype OEPC entries ranging from A to Aborigines take up 2.7 Megabytes. This is about 1 Megabyte when zipped. (We are assuming that the file can be uncompressed from the flash memory to the full 1/2 Gigabyte of RAM memory). Since the prototype contains about 1/500th of the desirable entries, all of the desirable entries will take an estimated 500 Megabyte when compressed, and will thus just fit without paging. If other programs are present in RAM, then parts of the OEPC will have to be uncompressed and paged in and out as driven by the child's browsing.

When other subjects are being studied (numeracy, art, music etc.) the OEPC can be flushed out of flash memory for that day, and replenished on a later visit to school. In a way, the child can "book out" a full copy of the OLPC as needed. The OLPC becomes an OEPC for the day, or the weekend.

Another approach would be to only use entries from the Simple English Wikipedia. This would avoid the need for compression, paging and flushing. In this case, the OEPC is merely an off-line copy of all desirable entries from the Simple English Wikipedia.

Well-connectedness of links in the OEPC is extremely useful in hooking the child's curiosity and satisfying the craving for more knowledge. Sadly, we cannot guarantee connectivity with the Web, and even a possible connection at the school may be expensive or dicey. Thus links should rather be internal (and be to the point) than to the Web (and be all-explanatory).

The major work required will be to sort out links into two categories: those that point to part of the corpus (OEPC) and those that were deemed by the editorial volunteers to be of lesser importance, and therefore only available in the on-line Wikipedias. These two categories of links will have to be tagged (using a program?) so that the child's expectations are not continually dashed. The outward, angled arrow currently used in Wikipedia to point to Web sites is a working and adequate device to distinguish the categories.

There are also four categories of internal links in the OEPC: Links from

        • simple to simple;
        • simple to advanced;
        • advanced to simple;
        • advanced to advanced.

Bold links are a simple convention which can easily be used to indicate links to the advanced entries.

The "wikipedia station" is like the successful "hole-in-the-wall" project in India, and certainly would be a useful contribution to improving literacy and knowledge among unschooled children.

The Wikipedia v1.0 on DVD will be a major contribution to education in urban and richer communities and to secondary classes.

I am not clear why the rendered (HTML) version of Wikipedia cannot be put on the DVD? That way, any browser e.g. Firefox can be used directly as a reader. Metame 05:25, 28 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Further comment[edit]

While I am aware that the device used to store and access the saved version is not exactly prevalent in developing countries, might the Encyclopodia Project be useful here? 16:50, 26 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]