Offline/Leveraging offline

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Leveraging Wikipedias offline

While local languages provide opportunities for greater penetration in the online world, the offline world of approximately 5 billion people[1], represents an even greater opportunity for Wikimedia. With the majority of the under-connected or not connected world residing in southern regional countries, offline versions of Wikipedia may enable Wikimedia to further its mission of allowing "all people" to "share the sum of all knowledge".

To date, offline Wikipedia projects have been created for a variety of reasons from convenience and fundraising, to educational outreach (e.g., tools for UK schools), and to extend reach in the developing world. These offline projects have been limited to English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and a few other European languages. The projects have been relatively small in scope with different purposes and strategies. Reach of people without or with limited access has only been the focus of a few projects and while these projects, such as One Laptop per Child (a low cost connected laptop)[2], have had impact in the hundred of thousands, none have reached the scale of successful online Wikipedias.

But are offline Wikipedias necessary? Many Wikipedians question whether offline projects without editing capabilities, even those focused on expanding reach to those with limited access, are truly aligned with the mission of everyone participating and sharing knowledge. Likewise, there are increasingly creating phone-based applications (including voice only) to provide access via call centers in developing countries [3].

A summary of offline project history and potential paths forward can be found at Offline Wikimedia projects

  1. Gates Foundation Global Libraries [1]
  2. http://laptop.org/en/
  3. New York Times article, Question Box Answers Calls in Africa,| Question Box Answers Calls in Africa/