The Wikimedia Foundation recently received a Knight Foundation grant for its efforts to more widely distribute Wikipedia’s 24 million articles to those without access to the Internet, particularly in developing markets. The goal, Kul Takanao Wadhwa explains, is to end “information segregation” through Wikipedia Zero, which essentially brings Wikipedia to users, barring carrier cooperation, free-of-charge.
So far, Wikipedia Zero has signed partnerships with four mobile operators, covering a subscriber base of more than 230 million users in 31 countries. The next step is to refine the project through developmental improvements, and eventually deliver Wikipedia via text, which is expected to roll out soon.
“With the program, users will send a text to Wikipedia and, within seconds, they will get the article to their phone,” Wadhwa said. The immediate impact of the project has already seen Wikipedia usage go up by 400 percent in six months where Wikipedia Zero has been deployed. “The demand is there for much more growth.”
As the old adage goes: “Knowledge is Power.” Wikipedia Zero is a noble attempt to make that knowledge more much accessible to millions of people around the world, through technology you and I take for granted every single day. “Access to knowledge should be a human right” Wadhwa said. Hopefully this project can continue to grow and flourish and make accessing that knowledge as easy as texting a friend.