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Wikipedia Will Soon Be Available Via Text Messages

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the citation-needed dept.

Cellphones 34

pigrabbitbear writes "Even as we all love to debate the scholarly merits of Wikipedia, there's no denying that it's an immensely powerful research and learning tool. That goes doubly so in poor nations, where access to education materials can be limited to nonexistent. To that end, Wikimedia started the Wikipedia Zero project, which aims to partner with mobile service providers to bring Wikipedia to poor regions free of charge. It's a killer strategy, because while computer and internet access is still fleeting for much of the world, cell phones are far more ubiquitous. Wikimedia claims that four mobile partnerships signed since 2012 brings free Wiki service to 330 million cell subscribers in 35 countries, a huge boon for folks whose phones have web capability but who can't afford data charges."

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need ctn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021439)

thx

160 characters (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021455)

Sounds useful:

SMS to Wikipedia: "water purification" [wikipedia.org]

This article is about large scale, municipal water purification. For portable/emergency water purification, see portable water purification. For industrial wate

Or, if they edit out the disambiguation preamble:

Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids and gases from contaminated water. The goal is to

Re:160 characters (3, Funny)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021705)

More like:

Water purification:
is da process of removing bad stuff frm contaminated water.

Re:160 characters (1)

skine (1524819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021729)

Or they send two or more text messages.

Google is available through text message at 46645 (GOOGL), and I've used it to get directions that took 10+ messages to complete.

Re:160 characters (3, Informative)

Sorthum (123064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022081)

It's already queriable via DNS.

dig +short txt ${1}.wp.dg.cx

Throw this into a script, invoke it as "script TOPIC".

Re:160 characters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022305)

More like:

Message (1/398): Water purification is...

Re:160 characters (4, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022413)

The first 10 messages are an appeal from Jimmy Wales and various information like "This article does not use citations to back up its claims..."

Re:160 characters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43023883)

The first 10 messages are an appeal from Jimmy Wales and various information like "This article does not use citations to back up its claims..."

Citation, please.

SMS - most expensive data transmission (0)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021485)

SMS is the most expensive way to send data to mobiles by orders of magnitude. Not sure this solves much of a problem.

Re:SMS - most expensive data transmission (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021575)

SMS is the most expensive way to send data to mobiles by orders of magnitude. Not sure this solves much of a problem.

Maybe to the end user, but I thought SMS was essentially free to the carrier since they piggyback in control packets that would be sent anyway.

Re:SMS - most expensive data transmission (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021701)

So this initiative is all about saving telcos money? Where can I sign up?!

Re:SMS - most expensive data transmission (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022247)

Maybe to the end user, but I thought SMS was essentially free to the carrier since they piggyback in control packets that would be sent anyway.

Hint: Why is AT&T the worst carrier around? It's related to one phone's aggressive power management on the radio that was released in 2007.

The control channel is crowded, and AT&T has plenty of signal and plenty of open channel bandwidth (if you can get one of them, downloads are fast), but the control channel is full. And things don't work when the control channel is full - like calls dropping (because the phone can't contact the tower for a handoff), slow data (likewise, can't contact tower for a data channel assignment), inability to make or receive calls, and delayed texts.

The explosion of text messaging, aggressive power management on the iPhones leads to overburdened control channels that really end up wasting a lot of tower capacity. Heck, an old IM app did the same to T-Mobile - it managed to flood their towers with data connection and takedown messages that their service suffered as well.

It's why carriers set up smaller cellsites (in densely populated areas, they're often only one city block diameter), why there are Cells on Wheels near stadiums, etc - basically they offload a lot of control channel traffic onto other frequencies so the service remains up and one tower doesn't get overburdened trying to service thousands of cellphones in a small area.

SMS is "free" in the sense it's built into the protocol, but it isn't free because it does load down already busy control chanels.

And yes, it means you can DDoS a cell network if you overload all the control channels. Or jam them - one frequency takes down all phones on a tower.

Re:SMS - most expensive data transmission (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022079)

No, it uses USSD. USSD is mostly free in the developing world. It also works wherever you get a signal.

Re:SMS - most expensive data transmission (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022335)

Dear American,

SMS is the *least* expensive way to send data in developing countries. Here in the Philippines, normal SMS costs only 0.02USD per message. It costs 0.49USD for 1 day unlimited SMS. Unlimited 3G/HSDPA costs 1.23USD per day. LTE is currently free because it's still being tested in selected cities.

Re:SMS - most expensive data transmission (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43024179)

SMS is the computationally cheapest way to send data to mobiles by an order of magnitude. Many people have free or at least unlimited text, and the USA pays more per-text than any nation of which I am aware.

Slashdot's story title is grossly wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021499)

Mobile providers will provide the TEXT (ie.low bandwidth) version of wikipedia free of charge, via a regular mobile data channel. They will not be providing Wikipedia via text message (SMS).

Re:Slashdot's story title is grossly wrong (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021623)

Mobile providers will provide the TEXT (ie.low bandwidth) version of wikipedia free of charge, via a regular mobile data channel. They will not be providing Wikipedia via text message (SMS).

That would make more sense, but the Wikimedia blog also says SMS (and USSD, similar to SMS with a 183 character message limit):

http://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/02/22/getting-wikipedia-to-the-people-who-need-it-most/ [wikimedia.org]

...pioneering a program to give mobile users USSD & SMS access to Wikipedia.

Re:Slashdot's story title is grossly wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021775)

There's two programs -- we got a headline about one, and a summary about the other. How can you be confused by that; it's like buy one, get one free!

(Soulskill, we hate you. You're the worst editor who's not samzenpus and/or timothy)

Re:Slashdot's story title is grossly wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021859)

(Soulskill, we hate you. You're the worst editor who's not samzenpus and/or timothy)

Or is he???? ...the Multipersonality Editor of Doom.

Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021503)

Every modern Android based phone can run the Wikipedia app [amazon.com] or any of the variants. Given that wireless access is needed to get the text message, I fail to see how that is an improvement over access to the actual pages and full content.

Re:Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021611)

Every modern Android based phone can run the Wikipedia app [amazon.com] or any of the variants. Given that wireless access is needed to get the text message, I fail to see how that is an improvement over access to the actual pages and full content.

Are you trolling, or for real? Yes, "feature phones" are very popular in many parts of the world not everyone can afford a $600 (or even $100) Android phone.

Re:Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022367)

Are you trolling, or for real? Yes, "feature phones" are very popular in many parts of the world not everyone can afford a $600 (or even $100) Android phone.

well maybe he thinks that 300+ android phones are really 1$ because that's how his carrier sold it to him.

anyhow, it's not even feature phones which are the target. feature phones have features.. mainly some kind of xhtml browser at least. its the one tier under them.

Re:Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43030809)

The Lenovo S60 [sturdysource.com] is highly affordable in India at Rs 6,499 (about $120 US)

That's if you need a phone. Thanks to Chinese manufacturers Android tablet devices are ultra cheap [mashable.com] these days and while not cutting edge can still provide adequate performance for most every day tasks assuming you have access to wifi at a village center.

Re:Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021751)

The headline is about one program [mediawiki.org] -- for non-smartphones that can access by SMS, but not by WAP or HTTP. And yes, non-smartphones (e.g. Nokia S40) are quite popular over there, though I believe almost all new ones do have at least a rudimentary browser these days.

The summary is about a completely different program called Wikipedia Zero [mediawiki.org] where they negotiate with wireless providers to provide access to m.wikipedia.org at zero charge for customers whose handsets have browsers and GPRS/UMTS/HSPA/WTFever capability (but not an unlimited data plan -- without this deal, they might be paying per megabyte, or be struggling to remain under a small data cap). Which is why it's a great improvement over access to the non-mobile version (which you can still jump to if it's worth it for a particular article), or to the mobile version at full /MB pricing or data-cap usage.

Re:Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022479)

Mod parent up.

Re:Are non-smartphones that popular over there? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022361)

Every modern Android based phone can run the Wikipedia app [amazon.com] or any of the variants. Given that wireless access is needed to get the text message, I fail to see how that is an improvement over access to the actual pages and full content.

who the fuck do you think buys the 20-40 dollars as new phones?(note: unsubsidized!) a lot of them are sold. they're the target devices for this as anything over 40+ bucks tends to have at least some kind of browser.
they got good battery life too, which is good for remote areas.

Oh goodie! (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021523)

Does this mean I can have edit wars while driving in my car?

Re:Oh goodie! (2)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021639)

And when the cop pulls you over you get the citation

Re:Oh goodie! (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021671)

Sorry, that's original research. Reverted.

Command line apps for your phone (1)

treadmarks (2528414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021563)

You can do quite a lot with SMS: Google SMS does weather, search, directions, gmail, news headlines, etc. Twitter is a good example of an app (originally) based on text messaging. It may not be pretty, but it is simple, reliable, and efficient. For those reasons it is an important lifeline, Wikipedia obviously sees it that way, and I'm glad it's not being forgotten.

That's nothing (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021627)

/. has had a robot overlord to read articles to you for quite some time now.

More donation spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021791)

Does this mean I'll get twice the banner donation spam, or more now?

Wait, is this happening now, or in the future? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43022445)

Wikimedia started the Wikipedia Zero project, which aims to partner with mobile service providers to bring Wikipedia to poor regions free of charge.

It's a killer strategy, because while computer and internet access is still fleeting for much of the world, cell phones are far more ubiquitous. Wikimedia claims that four mobile partnerships signed since 2012 brings free Wiki service to 330 million cell subscribers in 35 countries

So is this happening now, or sometime in the future? And is actually via text message, or via free web access?

What about the dwindling editor-base? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43022465)

Wikipedia's culture is broken. I left a few months ago, essentially because I saw that a small minority of users wikidrama/wikilawyer to the point of harassing anyone with whom they disagree. But the foundation spends time/money on an SMS version instead of fixing their broken culture? Misplaced priorities.

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