Proposal:Host Wikipedia from Space

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


How can we protect the human knowledge reflected in Wikipedia from the coming partial collapse of civilization?


  1. PlanA: Primary online server cluster in orbit, with cache coherence
  2. PlanB: Local partial copy for offline use with local update but without update propagation
  3. PlanC: Local copy (cache) with attempted asynchronous sync to any other copy


PlanA: Master Copy in Outer Space for World Wide availablity

Place a datacenter in space with the ability to communicate to home satellite dishes.

PlanB: Local Partial Copy for offline use

Possibly an alternative that meets some of the same objectives - namely to preserve Wikipedia across a cultural meltdown - would be to add offline capability capability to Wikipedia, similar to the offline capability available for G-mail. This would require that people have local storage to match the amount of data that they wish to have locally available.

This might be thought of a having one's own set of the Encyclopedia, or portions of it, and might be useful for "occasionally connected" use.

The obvious disadvantage is that, post internet collapse, Wikipedia would run in local mode only, no longer serving as a way to collaborate, instead serving to constrain the loss of knowledge rather than as a tool to advance it.


I assume that the problem of "concurrent update" (deconfliction, or implementing a type of cache coherence) can not be resolved in a general way, but I think it is interesting to consider how far sync-ing of thousands of diverse copies could be taken, and what that would mean.

How to Hug: Volume 21

"Volumes" might be defined, each one like a Volume of the Encyclopedia, with estimated space requirements.
I would call this feature "How to Hug", modeled after the labels on the binding of each volume, which indicates, the alphabetical range of topics that are to be found in that volume. Unlike hard copy volumes, one topic could be included in many volumes, and the selection need not, would not, be alphabetical.

Key Questions for PlanA

  • What satellites enterprises could this join with? The space station? The moon base?
  • How much storage is required? Transmission capacity?
  • Would equipment manufacturers be willing to contribute to it?
  • Could it run in a 'backup' mode, to kick in as primary only after the earth base servers fail?
  • As time goes on, technological obsolescence will occur. The design of any "time capsule" data best uses an interface that can probably be used well into the future, and a means to build that interface if it no longer exists.

Potential Costs

Costs of PlanB: Offline capability and local storage

The costs might be entirely labor costs

(as opposed to the significant equipment costs of in-space hosting and transmission)

w:Google Gears appears to allow for offline access to the web. The main work would be determining if it works, and a "one-click" way to select Wikipedia volumes for transfer to local storage.


References for PlanB: Offline capabilty and local storage

w:Google Gears

Community Discussion

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