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Wikipedia over SMS: Getting Wikipedia to the people who need it most (wikimedia.org)
62 points by alternize 1694 days ago | hide | past | web | 19 comments | favorite

This is hinting at the on-demand knowledge service to mobile handsets worldwide that Robert Steele proposed in this (very interesting) talk at Amazon: http://goo.gl/LKlcr

This is awesome! I'd heard about it from a previous HN submission when it was still quite small, but it looks like it is really taking off.

Interestingly, this is actually inspired by "Facebook Zero"[1], which may be the best thing Facebook will do for humanity: inspiring free information access for all.

[1]: http://qz.com/5180/facebooks-plan-to-find-its-next-billion-u...

Wait. Facebook is inspiring "free information access"? Isn't that what Wikipedia and even Google have been doing for a decade?

I think you're talking about free Internet access, which I think only works if the content provider is paying for it himself. Are these Wikipedia SMS's even free to the user?

Generally won't sms kind of services are limited to 160 chars. by operators? How are large articles etc. going to be handled

Concatenated SMS as someone else mentioned, but there is also USSD: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unstructured_Supplementary_Serv...

Concatenated SMS. A thing.

The standard allows 255 segments of 134 bytes, for ~39000 7-bit characters (GSM 7-bit alphabet) or ~17000 UCS-2 code units.

fwiw, it's built on Vumi which is Open Source http://github.com/praekelt/vumi. Feel free to join us in #vumi on Free for any questions.


"Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring." - Clay Shirky

does anyone have some insight how that would work? the best rate i could find for sending sms in europe is around 0.015€/sms at a large volume - still that would probably be way too expensive for such a project. will Wikipedia Zero have to rely on the cooperation of the mobile carriers for that distribution channel as well?

There's more specific information in the main info page[1], but the answer is yes: "In 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation signed Wikipedia Zero partnerships with three mobile operators [...]. In January of 2013, we signed a fourth partnership [...]" (from TFA).

[1]: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Zero

I'm extremely skeptical when I read an article that discusses growth percentages without mentioning a single raw number.

Well I was going to concentrate on getting fresh water to them but I guess knowing the history of the Hapsburg dynasty is just as good.

Yes I'm sure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_well would be of no use at all in that situation.

More seriously – once basic survival needs are met, the next most important thing is education. Life expectancy, living standards, family size and income all correlate highly to education level.

Want to stop HIV/AIDs? You can't do it just by handing out condoms. You need the users to understand why.

And as usual someone assumes all of the third world are without clean water and/or food...

E.g. take Africa:

"In its latest quarterly update for the region, the analyst says it expects mobile phone subscriber penetration levels to pass 80 percent in the first quarter of next year." (article from last year):


And/or that technology can't be a benefit in improving access to those even for the people who actually are without clean water or food...

In many of these countries mobiles have become a tool that is massively important in improving market efficiency by disseminating prices - vital in areas where communication is slow and knowing where to take your crop can make dramatic differences in return on investment - accessing information about farming, or the weather, or indeed - as someone else pointed to - to get information about technology that can cheaply help improve their standard of living.

Given more time the market will develop a solution if there is demand for it. Just like mobile phones are actually being bought in developing countries, something not really foreseen 15 years ago. Forcing something like this on telecom providers will result in the a delay in providing internet access to everyone, it will result in government interference with subsidies and cripple the evolution of the internet not only in developing countries but world wide. Patience is the keyword.

Woo, a TTL (time to libertarian) of 10 minutes!

This is being done by the carriers themselves, not the government. And by the way, what makes you think the carriers don't understand their own business? Here's a Wikipedia page to review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader .

This isn't being forced on anyone. Mobile operators are doing this voluntarily: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Mobile_partnerships

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