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Campaign Raises Funds To Send Wikipedia Readers To Kids Without Internet

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the billions-of-words dept.

Education 97

Eloquence writes "Remember the WikiReader? It was pitched as a device that would contain the text of the entire English Wikipedia, and run on two AAA batteries for months. Unfortunately it was sold to the wrong audience: people who already have smartphones, tablets and laptops. At a cost of $20 per device, Aislinn Dewey and Victor Grigas (who works for Wikimedia) are trying to raise funds to buy up the company's inventory and ship WikiReaders to kids in places without Internet connectivity."

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.. and why .. (1)

adri (173121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635155)

.. aren't they opening up the software stack on it too?

I bet some of those same kids would hack at the software. It's a general purpose computer, after all, just running an ugly looking renderer.

Re:.. and why .. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635231)

Source code is available here:
https://github.com/wikireader [github.com]

Re:.. and why .. (1)

adri (173121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635619)

Cool, and can you modify, upload and run a replacement image?

Re:.. and why .. (2)

adri (173121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635671)

Apparently so - http://toddbot.blogspot.com/2010/05/wikireader-forth-and-hacking.html [blogspot.com] .. FORTH? Wow. Amusing. :)

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636543)

Amusing? i think its cool. nice to see someone using FORTH. Not a lof it out there these days unless you include openfirmware.

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635245)

"WikiReader uses only open software. All of our source codes are available at http://github.com/wikireader. Please email code@thewikireader.com for more information." http://thewikireader.com/ [thewikireader.com]

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635299)

I bet some of those same kids would hack at the software

Kids who live in places where they don't have internet, but who nevertheless read, in English, is a long shot. Expecting these kids without internet access who read in English to also be programers is really pushing it.

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635357)

http://dev.thewikireader.com/language-packs/

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635399)

I wonder how people learned programming before the internet?
.
.
.
After a long trip down memory lane, books! From the library! With pen and paper! Begging my cousin to use his sharp pocket computer.

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43639815)

Because areas that have zero internet access in the 21st century are overflowing with writing utensils and libraries and calculators.

And by "writing utensils" and "libraries" and "calculators," I really mean "black market Russian weapons" and "impressment" and "AIDS."

Re:.. I wonder how people learned programming.. (1)

Anita Hunt (lissnup) (2913179) | about a year and a half ago | (#43648831)

We designed on paper with the help of a flowchart stencil, then wrote our code longhand on special forms, testing by reading, before handing them to a punch-card operator, who turned them into instruction cards with holes punched out in the correct sequence, ready to be fed into the computer. If you dropped that stack of cards it was a royal pita to get them back in order.

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635541)

you're really hard pressed to push the Stallman agenda aren't you

Re:.. and why .. (1)

adri (173121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635803)

Nope, I just grew up hacking on computers that came with a "hack me! i dare you!" manual. If you're going to hand out lots of single purpose devices like this, why not let the kids decide what to do with them when they don't need/want a wikipedia-only reader anymore.

Re:.. and why .. (2)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635879)

That's a part of why I mentioned that I'd take five of these devices when the first listing of this article went by earlier today. I'd give a few out to friends but I'd keep something like that in my car or my bathroom to play with. Eventually I'd get bored and want to hack at it. Either way, I'm on board to buy five of them right now if they'll make them and sell them at that price. I'll even pay for ten of them and get five like the OLPC BOGO deal from the past.

I'd probably give three away and keep two so that I had one to keep as a backup for when I finally started hacking mine. I'd absolutely love a device like this. I know I can have the same thing on my phone and not even have to worry about updating it or the likes. That's hardly the point. As a stand-alone device I can think of lots of times when I'd refer to it, use it, or otherwise enjoy it to the point where I was getting far more than $20 value out of it. I think it would make a great gift item too.

Re: .. and why .. (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637759)

Amazon has them for $10/ea

You can easily load your own content, you start by loading it into MediaWiki, then take an XML dump, then upload it to the reader.

You can also easily load 33K Project Gutenberg books, you just need to upgrade the microSDHC card.

Google it...

Re: .. and why .. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43639497)

If MediaWiki blew less that would be cool. Like, if you could import things into it without external tools which also blow.

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635587)

WikiReader has been free since beginning. It was created by Openmoko Inc. You can even find schematics and CAD files for the case.

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636233)

the more important question is...why do these kids need computers again? when they can't even get access to vaccines without the red cross and have no idea what a wind turbine is?

Re:.. and why .. (2)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636455)

Not all kids in the world need vaccines (do yours?) some have vaccines & red cross already and don't want a lifetime of dependency. You realize that there is a range of wealth in the world, right? Some people are poor, but not starving.

Re:.. and why .. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43639025)

So they can read wiki and invent their own vaccines.

Well not quite, but you get the point. Lowering the requirements to such a vast repository of knowledge is always an admirable goal. My biggest concern is that it's a dump of the English wiki. What languages do they use in the poorest countries? Not English, as far as I know...

Re:.. and why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636409)

No kidding. With all of Wikipedia at their fingertips it's not at all unlikely that some of those kids will learn how to crack those devices wide open.

Same kids (2)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635159)

ship WikiReaders to kids in places without Internet connectivity.

There is a good chance that those WikiReaders have probably been assembled by those same kids.

Re:Same kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635183)

And who are also likely illiterate... problems problems.

Re:Same kids (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635283)

And who are also likely illiterate... problems problems.

Very unlikely. Most electronic assembly is done in China or Vietnam, both of which have 95% literacy rates.

Re:Same kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635387)

Most electronic assembly is done in China or Vietnam, both of which have 95% literacy rates.

So one person in twenty is illiterate. What proportion of them work in assembly plants?

Re:Same kids (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635413)

Why do people on slashdot feel the need to make points about things of which they have no information?

Re:Same kids (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635577)

Why do people on slashdot feel the need to make points about things of which they have no information?

It's a web forum.

Re:Same kids (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635703)

Why do people on slashdot feel the need to make points about things of which they have no information?

Here is some information: List of Countries by Literacy Rate [wikipedia.org]

By default the list is sorted in alphabetical order, but you can click on the headers to sort by literacy rate, or by gender-specific literacy rate. Although illiteracy is correlated with poverty, it is even more strongly correlated with religion: Ten of the bottom ten are Muslim. Much of this is because they don't educate many of their girls.

Re:Same kids (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636239)

Why do people on slashdot feel the need to make points about things of which they have no information?

Although illiteracy is correlated with poverty, it is even more strongly correlated with religion: Ten of the bottom ten are Muslim. Much of this is because they don't educate many of their girls.

Lol. Way to prove the OP's point.

Some of the countries with the highest female literacy rates are also predominately muslim, for example:

Turkmenistan .... 89% muslim / 98.3% female literacy
Azerbaijan ...... 93% muslim / 99.9%
Uzbekistan ...... 88% muslim / 99.6%
Kazakhstan ...... 70% muslim / 99.3%
Tajikistan ...... 90% muslim / 99.8%

While some of the countries with the lowest female literacy rates have significantly smaller muslim populations:

Burkina Faso ... 60% muslim / 15.2% female literacy
Chad ........... 53% muslim / 24.2%
Sierra Leone ... 60% muslim / 24.4%
South Sudan .... 18% muslim / 16%

All religion information is from the current CIA world factbook except South Sudan which came from wikipedia's reference to the last census to collect religion stats in 1956.

Re:Same kids (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636773)


Turkmenistan .... 89% muslim / 98.3% female literacy
Azerbaijan ...... 93% muslim / 99.9%
Uzbekistan ...... 88% muslim / 99.6%
Kazakhstan ...... 70% muslim / 99.3%
Tajikistan ...... 90% muslim / 99.8%

All five of these countries were once part of the Soviet Union. They all inherited the Soviet educational system, and the cycle of illiteracy was already broken before they became independent. Literate mothers don't raise illiterate children.


Burkina Faso ... 60% muslim / 15.2% female literacy
Chad ........... 53% muslim / 24.2%
Sierra Leone ... 60% muslim / 24.4%
South Sudan .... 18% muslim / 16%

Only South Sudan is not majority Muslim, but it was part of a Muslim majority country up until less than two years ago.

Re:Same kids (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636857)

All five of these countries were once part of the Soviet Union. They all inherited the Soviet educational system, and the cycle of illiteracy was already broken before they became independent. Literate mothers don't raise illiterate children.

OK, still doesn't change the fact that religion is not a determining factor.

Only South Sudan is not majority Muslim, but it was part of a Muslim majority country up until less than two years ago.

So? The female illiteracy rates in those countries is far greater than the percentage of muslims. That means within their own communities, the non-muslims are pretty illiterate too.

Re:Same kids (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637465)

To follow up I looked into the ratio of female to male literacy.

Of the top five countries, 2 of them are primarily muslim:

#3 UAE .............. 96% muslim 1.074 ratio female:male literacy
#4 Maldives ........ 100% muslim 1.018

Re:Same kids (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636911)

All five of these countries were once part of the Soviet Union. They all inherited the Soviet educational system, and the cycle of illiteracy was already broken before they became independent. Literate mothers don't raise illiterate children.

That would depend on when the Muslims immigrated to those countries, would it not? Were those countries predominantly Muslim under Soviet rule or did that occur post Soviet rule? If I recall, the Soviets were not fond of letting religion flourish.

Indonesia, which has the highest concentration of Muslims, has a female literacy rate of 99.38 (2008), and they were not part of the Soviet Union.

It is far more likely that the poor literacy rates in the countries you mention (Burkina Faso, Chad, Sierra Leone, South Sudan) have more to do with economics and civil war than religion.

Re:Same kids (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637095)

What the heck does that have to do with literacy rates in vietnam and china?

Re:Same kids (1)

aynoknman (1071612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636155)

Why do people on slashdot feel the need to make points about things of which they have no information?

'Cause they don't have wikireaders

Wikireader specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635171)

I found an interesting video on this item : Wikireader [youtube.com]

Still too expensive IMHO

$10 instead of $20 (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635201)

They're $10 on Amazon (instead of $20) - can I ship some directly to them? There seem to be a bunch for that price:

http://goo.gl/XfHfX

WARING: GOATSE LINK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635599)

Thanks asshole. Now I have to have a conversation with my son that I didn't want to have :(

Re:WARING: GOATSE LINK (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635917)

Thanks asshole. Now I have to have a conversation with my son that I didn't want to have :(

"I wanted to buy a cheapo device so now I had to look at the goatse guy?"? did you at least tell him about tubgirl and a movie featuring a certain cup..

Re:WARING: GOATSE LINK (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636339)

The link is a legitimate link and a valuable link. You really can buy them for $10 on Amazon - new. This whole thing is starting to reek of a scam or, at least, a waste of money. They'd be paying $15 more for the product than they'd be able to buy it for on Amazon if what they're claiming is true. Amazon has free two day shipping (IIRC) on the product. They'd get more for just collecting the money and then sending the people gift cards for the ten bucks so that they could order their own. They'd get 2.5 products instead of one if they did it that way and they'd get free shipping to boot.

Re:WARING: GOATSE LINK (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43637577)

Hi guys - Victor Grigas here (im the guy in the video), we plan to buy whatever is most cost effective, if they come from amazon or the manufacturer - in each case there are technical considerations. The $25 is a ballpark estimate. The benefits from the manufacturer are that he will pre load whichever language we need and that the microSD card can be 8gb. I found out about this by shopping on amazon myself for one (for like $15 a month ago) and when i got it it had a 4gb card with a 3 year old copy of .en wikipedia and i had to go purchase a larger microSD card just to fit the current (october 2012) version of .en wikipedia on my device. This represents a significant problem not only in extra expense of microSD cards but all the time it takes to unwrap packaging, and update each card. However, if the campaign only gets a few thousand dollars I think that would be the most effective option because that means more wikireaders (and i wouldnt mind spending a few weekends updating cards) Also I don't know about amazons' supersaver shipping to places outside the USA. Thanks everyone for your strong criticism, I genuinely appreciate it because it helps find the best options. Please let us know if there are inefficiencies or other things we can do. Also keep in mind Aislinn and I are not making any money on this at all. We plan to publish all our transactions and be as transparent as possible about this. Hell, if i was looking at this from the outside I'd demand that. Thanks for reading.

Re:WARING: GOATSE LINK (4, Interesting)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635949)

LOL Now that was clever. Anyhow, thanks OP for the post. I think I'm going to grab one to play with. I'd have to donate $250 to get one through the link in the summary. Actually, I'm going to get two of them at that price.

It makes me wonder if maybe these folks are scamming?

They say, in the video, that they contacted the manufacturer and that they would be able to get them in bulk for $25 with a "maybe less" caveat.

The company, themselves it appears, sell that same device for $10 on Amazon and that is buying them one at a time, not in bulk. It would likely be less than $10 if they were buying them in bulk.

So why are the prices so different? It makes me wonder if they're scamming. It would be unfortunate if they were.

Re:WARING: GOATSE LINK (2)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635963)

And, in order to leave a public comment on the donation site you have to have made a donation.

Re: WARING: GOATSE LINK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43637267)

What were you thinking letting your child near the internet?

There are....things that make goatse seem quaint and almost humorous. Stuff that will mess up your heart, mind, and feelings for life.

  Just tell your kid that he is Amish and not allowed to use it. And then when he is ready to go to college, maybe then he will be ready to see the good and bad that exists here.

Just what kids need in third-world countries! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635207)

Yes, this is exactly what kids need in third-world countries! I mean, sure they don't speak English, live a subsistence life, don't have easy access to batteries and cannot read their native language, let alone English. Yes this is the perfect idea.

Re:Just what kids need in third-world countries! (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635515)

they don't speak English

Wikipedia is available in many languages besides English.

live a subsistence life

People don't choose to live a subsistence life. Information technology can give them other options. Few things have changed life in poor countries more than cellphones. Farmers can check global or regional prices, and know if a village cartel of buyers is ripping them off. They can get information about the weather, crop diseases, fertilizer usage, etc.

don't have easy access to batteries

Batteries are available anywhere, and there is a single global standard. A rechargable AAA battery is good for 500 cycles at a cost of less than a cent per cycle.

cannot read their native language, let alone English.

Literacy rates are only roughly correlated with poverty. There are some very poor places with surprising high literacy rates.

 

Yes this is the perfect idea.

People made the same sarcastic, cynical statements about cellphones a decade ago. I guess criticizing others helps them rationalize their own inaction.

Re:Just what kids need in third-world countries! (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635867)

People don't choose to live a subsistence life.

Not true, in many cultures people DO choose a subsistence life style. For a variety of reasons.
Its not common in the US, other than Alaska. But northern Canada and parts of Norway, Russia, South Pacific, and South America all have cultures that choose a subsistence life style.

Re:Just what kids need in third-world countries! (1)

grcumb (781340) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637085)

don't have easy access to batteries

Batteries are available anywhere, and there is a single global standard. A rechargable AAA battery is good for 500 cycles at a cost of less than a cent per cycle.

Not true, I'm afraid. Well, not true in the sense that people where I live (about 20% of the population are on the power grid) don't find themselves doing without. Cost is the major factor, though availability is often limited.

I work in IT policy, and one of the biggest things we've had to accomplish in recent years is to convince the government that access to electrical power has to be factored into their ICT policy. It may seem obvious to you and me, but it actually took a bit of work. Curiously, it was the donors who didn't realise it, not government.

People made the same sarcastic, cynical statements about cellphones a decade ago. I guess criticizing others helps them rationalize their own inaction.

To be fair, most people did not actually say these things about mobile phones; they didn't think about them at all. The impact of mobile telephony on poor, rural areas was largely overlooked until it had already begun to make itself felt. Remember that mobile phone banking began in Kenya completely independently of any outside agency. People just began treating phone credit as cash, and passing it between themselves. The donors and banks only got into the mix after the fact. Same with Ushahidi and other cool SMS-based apps.

They did say that about computers and the internet, though, and yes, we're in full agreement that the old 'how can they have computers if they don't have roads' argument is bullshit.

But... I don't think offline devices are nearly as useful as online ones are, and by the time you've found a place that's capable of using them, you'd really be better off lobbying government and local telcos to build a tower as well. I'm not just speculating about this, by the way, I've spent the last decade working in the developing world on exactly these sort of problems.

Re:Just what kids need in third-world countries! (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43639235)

I don't think offline devices are nearly as useful as online ones are, and by the time you've found a place that's capable of using them, you'd really be better off lobbying government and local telcos to build a tower as well. I'm not just speculating about this, by the way, I've spent the last decade working in the developing world on exactly these sort of problems.

I'm not quite clear on the above -- do you mean that:
A. it would be more reasonable to wait years for the telecom infrastructure to become available and then go straight to Internet-capable devices (as opposed to offline devices right away)
B. Internet-capable devices are preloaded (e.g. with Wikipedia), so it's better to get them now as it will eventually be possible to fully utilize their abilities, as opposed to spending on a wave of offline devices followed by online ones
C. Internet-capable devices aren't preloaded, but better to get them for the features they do have as they'll be more useful down the road

I defer to your experience, but was wondering because in cases A & C, it seems to me like any substantial delay would harm the educational & skills development of the kids left waiting, and "A" would result in some kids reaching adulthood without getting their chance.

Re:Just what kids need in third-world countries! (1)

grcumb (781340) | about a year and a half ago | (#43648887)

I'm not quite clear on the above -- do you mean that:

A. it would be more reasonable to wait years for the telecom infrastructure to become available and then go straight to Internet-capable devices (as opposed to offline devices right away)

B. Internet-capable devices are preloaded (e.g. with Wikipedia), so it's better to get them now as it will eventually be possible to fully utilize their abilities, as opposed to spending on a wave of offline devices followed by online ones

C. Internet-capable devices aren't preloaded, but better to get them for the features they do have as they'll be more useful down the road

I defer to your experience, but was wondering because in cases A & C, it seems to me like any substantial delay would harm the educational & skills development of the kids left waiting, and "A" would result in some kids reaching adulthood without getting their chance.

I like B most, with C as a viable option if B isn't possible.

But emphatically: No, I don't ever advise waiting. What I meant to say is that when someone comes to me with a proposal like this (i.e. to give offline wikipedia devices to students) I suggest that they push harder to get internet into their target schools as well. In my experience, having internet connectivity makes computers many times more attractive to people of all ages in the developing world. Besides, a VSAT dish with generating capacity and a wireless network isn't asking for the moon. It's expensive by local standards, yes, but that's what donor money is for. :-)

The thing that drives me craziest in this job is when people see technology as a kind of either/or thing. You either have exactly the same infrastructure as you would in a downtown office in New York, or you have nothing. This idea is kind of a modulation on that problem, where instead of viewing the world in a binary mode, they've simply misjudged the distance of the steps between.

... In my decidedly less than humble opinion, of course.

Not a bad idea but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635211)

Not a bad idea, but it may suffer the same fate as OLPC. Namely, too much focus given to the hardware and not enough on the software.

Most English speaking countries are developed enough that internet access is "no big deal" for most of the population. A full translation of wiki into some other languages would be considerably more useful, but would involve a lot more "man hours" to develop.

Edit: I RTFA and I can't fault the premise of the idea - they are buying up already-manufactured units at firesale prices, apparently - I guess the "extremely cheap" nature of the project outweighs any potential downsides. Starting from scratch, multi-lingual devices would probably be the way to go.

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635277)

I agree the English aspect is likely to limit its usefulness. Although it's getting somewhat more common for kids around the world to be able to read a bit of English.

There are, in any case, already large Wikipedia versions in some other languages, so they wouldn't have to be translated from scratch. And some of them overlap with languages widely spoken in countries with poor internet access, such as French and Spanish.

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635339)

And some of them overlap with languages widely spoken in countries with poor internet access, such as French and Spanish.

True, but to avoid any misunderstanding it's probably best to point out that some areas of France are quite well developed - in Paris you could easily think you were in a modern country.

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635649)

I had in mind mostly these French speakers [wikipedia.org] , but point taken. :P

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635477)

Some large countries have already commissioned their own "educational tablet" - maybe a country like India or China will fund an education-oriented wikireader in their own language - possibly with English included too for additional education value.

There is a large gap in the amount of information covered by English wikipedia versus other languages, though:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Non-English_Wikipedias

This Wikipedia is written in English. Started in 2001, it currently contains 4,226,435 articles. Many other Wikipedias are available; some of the largest are listed below.

        More than 1,000,000 articles:
                Deutsch
                français
                italiano
                Nederlands
        More than 500,000 articles:
                español
               
                polski
                português
               
                svenska
                Ting Vit
               
        More than 200,000 articles:
               
                Bahasa Indonesia
                Bahasa Melayu
                català
                esky

                magyar
                norsk bokmål
                român
                suomi
                Türkçe
               
        More than 50,000 articles:
               
                dansk
                eesti
               
                English (simple)
                Esperanto
                euskara
                galego
               
                hrvatski
                lietuvi
                norsk nynorsk
                slovenina
                slovenina
                  / srpski
                srpskohrvatski /

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636917)

I agree the English aspect is likely to limit its usefulness. Although it's getting somewhat more common for kids around the world to be able to read a bit of English.

There are, in any case, already large Wikipedia versions in some other languages, so they wouldn't have to be translated from scratch. And some of them overlap with languages widely spoken in countries with poor internet access, such as French and Spanish.

A bigger limit to the usefulness is the amount of inaccurate information on Wikipedia. While the concept is great, there is a lot to be desired given the implimentation.

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43645511)

A bigger limit to the usefulness is the amount of inaccurate information on Wikipedia. While the concept is great, there is a lot to be desired given the implimentation.

This.
Wikipedia is good for what it is- a quick reference for what the current popular opinion is in regards to various subjects. It is NOT an encyclopedia, this is not its purpose nor has it ever been.

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635313)

Hi! when we contacted the manufacturer, he said that any language version thats already available for the WikiReader will be able to be pre-installed, There's several available: http://dev.thewikireader.com/language-packs/ he was interested in putting effort into getting any other languages needed as well, including one developed by the UK specifically for classroom education: http://schools-wikipedia.org/

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635659)

Excellent!

The children's version looks very promising. It would be amazing if you could get foreign language versions into the hands of children in the 3rd world - the logistics of it wouldn't be easy, but you would be making a huge difference to people's lives.

I hope you can get plenty of support for your idea. Don't worry too much about the reaction on slashdot, there will be plenty of "experts" dismissing your efforts on this thread sadly - this is par for the course here, seemingly worthy projects like the Raspberry Pi are repeatedly slammed on this site too.

The main thing is you're getting some free publicity - and hopefully some extra contributions! Good luck!

Re:Not a bad idea but ... (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636363)

Why are you paying 2.5 times the price for the same device listed on Amazon?

Fuckin Useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635235)

I'm sure they would much prefer a sandwich though.

Re:Fuckin Useful... (1)

JustOK (667959) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635581)

or gingerbread

Great! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635265)

Now, even poor kids can be fed the same propaganda as the rich ones, such as the Holocaust article, which doesn't as much as *mention* the fact that many question the very occurrence, or at least have very strong doubts about the official story and numbers. Everything is stated as facts on Wikipedia, as long as "somebody else we like said it".

That's just one example, though. Wikipedia is one rotten project. I gave up trying to contribute at all many years ago due how you get harassed if you aren't "a regular".

Re:Great! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635375)

Of course, some retard votes this down...

This does work (5, Insightful)

cphilo (768807) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635293)

There has already been experiments that show that this is a good idea. Children given access to computers/knowledge WILL learn and exceed expectations. http://www.npr.org/2013/05/03/179828483/can-schools-exist-in-the-cloud [npr.org]

Re:This does work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635311)

There has already been experiments that show that this is a good idea. Children given access to computers/knowledge WILL learn and exceed expectations.

That depends on your expectations.

Yes, spread the false information. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635369)

Wikipedia? Its fully of bad information and false information. Why? Because there is no standard to it and anyone can make changes on it or submit information.

Its ok to use it as a guideline but only a complete moron would take it all as 100% fact.

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635535)

actually in most intelligent circles to consider something as TRUTH (about an event) it takes N independent sources (where N is greater than 3 in most cases).

Wikipedia is good for 3 things mostly

1 to get the keywords on a subject
2 to get a quick "dance through" a subject
3 REFERENCES (you know that buncha links at the bottom??)

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (3, Insightful)

Dwonis (52652) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635953)

Exactly. People who dismiss Wikipedia because of its inaccuracies often forget about what we usually did *before* Wikipedia existed: We made stuff up based on our intuitions, *maybe* talked about it at a coffee shop with a small number of our friends, and believed it as fact. Sure, if we were doing academic research, we were more rigorous (and that's improved, too, IMHO), but how often did that happen? Now, with portable devices that can access the WWW, our first reponse when we're not sure about something is often to look it up.

I can't emphasize this enough: Instant access to the web is resulting in a culture shift from making stuff up to looking it up, and Wikipedia is the most important place where people go to do that.

So, yes, even though Wikipedia is a repository of groupthink (and the critics are right that we mustn't forget that), it's groupthink that takes into account the views of a much larger number of contributors, and is much more accurate than the groupthink of a small, isolated group of people.

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (1)

dj245 (732906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637633)

Instant access to the web is resulting in a culture shift from making stuff up to looking it up, and Wikipedia is the most important place where people go to do that.

So, yes, even though Wikipedia is a repository of groupthink (and the critics are right that we mustn't forget that), it's groupthink that takes into account the views of a much larger number of contributors, and is much more accurate than the groupthink of a small, isolated group of people.

Unless you are reading a subject which is "owned" by one individual, who furiously defends it against changes they don't agree with. You don't even have to get to an obscure subject to find this, just a non-controversial subject that might not be that much fun to write about for most people. If you come across this, it isn't groupthink- it is just people "making stuff up".

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43641615)

If it is at all political, historical or religious, always look at the change history. An article with a lot of changes indicates that people are highly biased one way or the other about it and anything read has to be read with a grain of salt.

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (1)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43646173)

If it is at all political, historical or religious, ... people are highly biased one way or the other about it and anything read has to be read with a grain of salt.

There; FTFY. ;-)

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (1)

tarc (2793789) | about a year and a half ago | (#43641871)

So you basic point is... "I don't have to sit around in coffee shops and guess at stuff anymore because now with the internet, anonymous people will do that for me." Clever.

Wikipedia is pretty accurate (1)

Burz (138833) | about a year and a half ago | (#43649935)

...if you allow that the inaccuracies which do appear rarely stay there for long and vandalism is often repaired within 5 minutes.

Re:Yes, spread the false information. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636583)

Only a complete moron would blindly take ANYTHING as 100% fact.

This place has gone downhill, and is beginning to resemble a newspaper forum. All the intelligent comments (when they even occur) get drowned out by the "me too" types such as this, who have absolutely nothing original or insightful to add, but yet are so goddamned bored that they just have to go 'ooooooh ooohh, mee too!! I have something to add! Teh wikipedias are dumb!"

I use my wikireader regularly (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635433)

When I just need some text from wikipedia, I pick up the wikireader and stab at it and lo, I get it very quickly. I also have wiktionary installed so it does that as well. And I own a mobile phone with wifi and multitouch, so I could use full wikipedia. I can get results from my wikireader while I'm still waiting for the browser to load, in little more time than it takes to wake my phone up and unlock it. It's far and away faster than waking up a netbook and doing the same thing, since the ones I'm using now lack SSD...

Re:I use my wikireader regularly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635849)

When I just need some text from wikipedia, I pick up the wikireader and stab at it and lo, I get it very quickly. I also have wiktionary installed so it does that as well. And I own a mobile phone with wifi and multitouch, so I could use full wikipedia. I can get results from my wikireader while I'm still waiting for the browser to load, in little more time than it takes to wake my phone up and unlock it. It's far and away faster than waking up a netbook and doing the same thing, since the ones I'm using now lack SSD...

you clearly need a better phone.

Re:I use my wikireader regularly (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636517)

you clearly need a better phone.

I don't deny it, but I'm less than $100 into my unlocked Xperia Play including the 32GB memory card and the dock. I actually play games on it when I'm out places, like the tire shop — three of them came with the dock which I got on eBay for $12, two came with the phone, and it plays [some] playstation games. It's adequate as a PDA and is actually quite excellent as a phone, in that the reception seems okay (better than the other phones I've tried here at home in the sticks) and the face detection feature actually works, so I don't type with my face.

DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635453)

Can i create my own on a e-ink reader? While a great idea for areas of the world, i do have internet and would like a larger screen.

Re:DIY (1)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#43639761)

In a way. If you don't mind ordering a ton of them, various manufacturers will brand and often allow you to customize software for a variety of products, e-ink readers included.

A quick search turns up a few manufactures with e-ink reader products for you to brand and/or otherwise customize: Tomstar, Sim-Tek, APEC, Win-Win, Penel, and a host of others. Products vary, though a quick check shows at least one with a 9.7" display.

Not exactly DIY, but a pretty cheap option (well under 100k) if you really need to have your "own" product.

How about sending them encyclopedias in book form (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635503)

If its more than one volume, they could be easily shared between different kids.
It will have high density pictures.
It will work without any batteries.
It will much easier to read than the device.
They are already available in many languages.

This is based around a fail product, that nobody wanted.
The manufacturer is burned by having a large inventory
and cannot move them.

Someone comes up with the idea to raise money from people
to buy out the inventory so the manufacturer gets in the black
on the project.

In the end, X amounts of units (hopefully) shipped to places
in the world where english is not the language, batteries
are expensive and hard to get (solar power anyone??

Re:How about sending them encyclopedias in book fo (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43635937)

have you checked the prices on encyclopedias, like, ever? never mind one in swahili.

do you have any kind of idea how fucking much shipping them would cost?

Re:How about sending them encyclopedias in book fo (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636841)

Since wikipedia is open source you just ship one and allow free copying. Either electronically or manually.

Newbie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635739)

I only just found out about the WikiReader a few months ago, and added it to my Amazon cart - a few weeks ago they dropped to $10 each, so i bought 4 and am very impressed. I'm now learning Fourth so I can write some programs for it.

$10 on Amazon (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635745)

http://www.amazon.com/WikiReader-PANREADER-Pocket-Wikipedia/dp/B002N5521W

fp goat? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43635751)

lead to 'cleaner eulogies to BSD's you are aE screaming believe their OS don't fear the to use the GNAA elected, we took GNAA on slashdot,

Better Choice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636097)

Link it to http://www.h2g2.com/ [h2g2.com] and put Don't Panic! in large friendly letters on the cover.

Re:Better Choice! (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about a year and a half ago | (#43638809)

I already did the hack to the wikireader a few years ago.
https://sites.google.com/site/sporkinum/ [google.com]

Re:Better Choice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43653979)

Yeah changing the loading image is nothing like what I suggested. Thanks for playing.

What if you get the wrong snapshot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636207)

They take a snapshot at some point in time, right? What if kids get a snapshot which has all the wrong information, or after a super-delete purge of all the interesting articles happens because they're not notable?

Questions, questions. (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#43636659)

At a cost of $20 per device, Aislinn Dewey and Victor Grigas (who works for Wikimedia) are trying to raise funds to buy up the company's inventory and ship WikiReaders to kids in places without Internet connectivity.

Will the reader stand up to the physical abuse it will receive?

Rapid attrition translates into much higher costs and limited availability. I don't altogether trust the geek's affection for dirt-cheap gadgets,

Is the Wikipedia written at a grade school reading level?

How closely is the English language Wikipedia tied to the third world curricula and classroom?

Significant deployments of the OLPC laptop are almost unknown outside of Hispanic speaking Central and South America.

There has to be a reason for that --- and the most likely place to begin searching for an answer lies in the cultural biases of the Western donor.

John Wood, founder of Room to Read, emphasizes affordability and scalability over high-tech solutions. While in favor of the One Laptop per Child initiative for providing education to children in the developing world at a cheaper rate, he has pointed out that a $2,000 library can serve 400 children, costing just $5 a child to bring access to a wide range of books in the local languages (such as Khmer or Nepali) and English; also, a $10,000 school can serve 400---500 children ($20---$25 a child). According to Wood, these are more appropriate solutions for education in the dense forests of Vietnam or rural Cambodia. [2006]

One Laptop per Child [wikipedia.org]

The need for a wide range of books can't be emphasized enough.

Re:Questions, questions. (1)

volmtech (769154) | about a year and a half ago | (#43637157)

I used to love it (not) when our teacher gave us a research assignment. The first ten students checked out the needed books from the library and everyone else had to use one of the two encyclopedia copies. HS class 1970.

I don't think they thought this through (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43636661)

Instead of sending someone there to read wikipedia to them, in a language they don't speak, they should just put it on some sort of eReader, and then they can not read it, because they don't know english.

A whole world of knowledge for new readers (1)

tarc (2793789) | about a year and a half ago | (#43641805)

in the developing world. Now in the palms of their hands, children world-wide will not only be able to read about;

Do these wikireaders display graphics? If so, kids are in for a treat of both real pictures and hand-drawn illustrations at the above links.

Re:A whole world of knowledge for new readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642873)

Is there some reason you think YOU should know about these things, but other people shouldn't?

I'm in favor of letting people learn about the good and bad things in the world and make sense of it in their own way. Stop trying to protect children from the nasty. Instead prepare them to deal with it.

Orville Redenbacher (1)

tarc (2793789) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642249)

By the way, for an hour and a half yesterday, the world thought that Orville Redenbacher died of autoerotic asphyxiation. 08:47, 5 May 2013 : http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Orville_Redenbacher&diff=553623706&oldid=552899374 [wikipedia.org] (anon edit) 10:13, 5 May 2013 : http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Orville_Redenbacher&diff=553632261&oldid=553623706 [wikipedia.org] (reversed)

different direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43665123)

Better to market it to english teachers; i can't see ESL students using it---ever. If it were wikipedia in their native language, absolutely. I just can't think of a scenario where an ESL student would stop and say "hey, I want to read a probably difficult article on a subject in a foreign language." But if, say, one (1!), were available to a school for the english department to use instead of the student population, I could see teachers using it effectively. Meaning one per school, most likely (and one per high school at that). Keep costs low, and expectations similarly.

Now, if you were to make a similar device in students' native language, they would probably eat that up. But we're talking english as a foreign language here, and students just won't do that kind of thing.

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