Offline Projects/Wikimania 17 session notes

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Knowledge for everyone: making access affordable


   Knowledge for everyone: making access affordable
Day & time
13 August 2017, 02:45 pm
Session link
Anne Gomez, Jorge Vargas, James Heilman, Stephane Coillet-Matillon, Florence Devouard, Adam Holt
Stephen, Ravi


Do we care about getting everyone access to knowledge? Yes!

Wikipedia tech improvements -- Anne

- We have teams working on performance, specifically on mobile 
- What have the done? 
- Lazy loading! 
- Moved the first ¶ above the infobox. Noticable decrease in load times.

Wikipedia Zero -- Jorge

- Program has launched in 73 countries
- Our plan for this year -- do a strong evaluation of the program, and do assessment of how its working and not working, and make changes. Join this discussion.
- A lot of people face a barrier of cost
- Editing and uploading are important

Offline/Kiwix -- Stephane

- Hipsters of offline access (back when DVDs were cool)
- Readers have different reading needs. They prefer content by subject, size, region etc.,
- Key take away is that you start with one idea, but end up with a totally different project. Think large! Whatever you think is normal here, may be different where it's needed.
- Kiwix is downloaded everywhere from North Korea to the Vatican

Medical app -- Doc James

- Developing world/global south is where most offline app downloads come from
- People will put in the effort to get content

Wikifundi -- Florence (here with Isla)

- Started with an idea from an editathon -- you need a spot, the right people, and internet access. But internet access can be slow, down, or too expensive.
- Kiwix was just for consumption, and they wanted to do something where you could edit
- Pilot idea -- use a Rasberry Pi 3 to host MediaWiki + templates + resources; Can create a wifi to host an editathon
- 1/ Created in partnership with Foundation Orange
- In two languages
- Distributed to Wikimedia usergroups and schools in Africa
- 2/ There is a project in South Africa to work with schools (teenagers)
- 3/ A project with Orange, where children learn how to edit a project similar to Wikipedia for kids (Vikidia)

Internet in a box -- Adam Holt

- Has three things: 1) how you surive in Haiti (a book), 2) a OLPC from 2006; an offline box (with Kahn Academy, 3) WP, and other tools)
- A tiny thing in your pocket, a $20 an internet in a box. A 

Android and mobile web in the official app -- Anne G.

- Feature to read zim files
- In the mobile web, you can download an article to your phone
- In the android app, you can load saved pages feature. Working on reading packages of Zim files, so you can just download sets of articles.
- Trying to mitigate people redownloading content. People's hunger for media increasingly visual and interactive. If you can provide it without charging, it's even better

Now, let's discuss!

QUESTION: Should we be more vocal on access?

- The for-profit world isn't going to jump in until we prove it works.
- We should jumpstart, and be involved for the middle period of time.
- We should prototype, and turn to for profit for scale? Not interested in becoming a marketing company for products. Make all the components free, and let other people do the last step of gathering and marketing.
- Kiwix has a partner in Cameroon -- they have low margins, and they are nimble. The Movementshould be flexible on certain details if it helps trying new solutions. We have much more leeway than the private sector.
- It was normal to sell encyclopedias in the historical model.
- Back to the original question, should we be more vocal? Yes!

QUESTION: Do we see this reflected in the current strategy discussions?

- Our current draft of the strategy is about roads, bridges, and villages. Those are very concrete physical objects, and what we're discussing here is also concrete! We are talking about roads as access.
- Are we vocal against censorship? Are we getting politicized? It's one thing to be vocal about the elected regime in Turkey or somewhere: this is getting into politics. Are we ready to do this?
- No, perhaps, we shouldn't lead advocacy and politics. We need other partners, and not advocates.
- A lot of countries have censorship issues. We face this issue with internet in a box. There are lots of people who may want to distribute content. Is this where we want to invest our community?

QUESTION: Access has already been part of the strategy. What is different now? How will this new strategy change our actions?

- We as an organization need to figure this out. No concrete answer.
- Want to make this very strong.

QUESTION: The situation is urgent. By 2030, hopefully everyone will have access by then. This is something we should try to address in shorter term.

- There is an opportunity to get this message out before the next 4B come online.

QUESTION: Our vision is inherently political. We are going to run into people who don't agree with us. If we rely on a for profit company, then we rely on what they want to share.

- Are you suggesting that the Foundation stay involved in manufacturing and distributing? I think yes.
- We should be ready to stand up to governments.
- If we are not going to give someone all of our content, who decides?
- At Esino Lario, there was a French discussion. The chapter decided to put a banner about freedom of panorama, and it ended up being called "the banner gate" by some in the community who opposed this move.

QUESTION: There are a bunch of countries with political issues, and many that do not have political issues (but still have access problems). We are seeing online or offline as two different things, but in reality they are blurred. Why don't we try to solve this problem in different ways for different countries?

QUESTION: Tech is on our side. Price is going down!

QUESTION: A lot of this discussion is about content that already exists. But that's not always the case. We don't do much to move our resources to places where they need it go.

- We do have content translation.
- It's so important to consider what people want. A lot of people are not online in Africa, and that's partially because they are not represented. That's something that wikiafrica wants to fix. Not just a WP problem, there are missing domains registered in Africa.
- Only just started to see Foundation direct resources in this way.
- People don't always want WP.
- WP was the most popular on green OLPCs in some countries, but not always!

QUESTION: Should we prioritize? Invest in content, offline, or hybrid online/offline?

- Are we artificially limiting our growth? FDC says 20% growth for any org. We should invest more resources.
- We can start and pilot.

- We have pilots in various countries for years.

- Communities have been piloting and starting offline projects for years. It needs the Foundation to direct resources towards it. Need to focus attention and the will to change.

QUESTION: Are there other collections that have similar utility? Medical info is essential, there must be other areas of essential info.

- Engineering, agriculture, food science, food production -- people are working in these sectors.

Coolest project of 2017 was a medical translation project! The movement is recognizing offline importance.

Sign up for the offline-l mailing list:

COMMENT: A lot of this discussion is about distributing Wikipedia. We should talk about embedding knowledge. Think of the social or other channels where people have access.

- Think about how much people share content between devices without hitting the internet.

QUESTION: What kind of content should be distributed? That needs to be localized. Money should go into finding out what people need and what they desire.

- The devices that were install in Guatemala. Not just WP, but also country guidelines on disease treatment. WP is just one kernel in the knowledge on the device. WHO, MSF, CDC, these partners want to collaborate with us.


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