Wikipeida Shipped in Subsets

While I still say that OLPC + Wikipedia was no surprise anyone who knew that Samuel Klein joined OLPC, the match-up has continued to be reported by news sources around the globe.

Reading the articles, I've found two new developments not originally mentioned. First, while OLPC is going to pre-load Wikipeida content, Wikimedia is careful to say that the arrangement isn't special. To quote the Linux News story:

He was careful not to characterize the move as a joint venture between Wikimedia Foundation Inc., the nonprofit corporation that operates Wikipedia, and OLPC. Like any user of the online encyclopedia, OLPC can freely use Wikipedia's content, Wales said.
Second, OLPC is not going to ship laptops with the entire Wikipedia on each one. The current plan is to distribute the encyclopedia information across the mesh network, each child hosting some small portion of the content. Christopher Blizzard, a key OLPC contributor, explains the details:
The trick becomes - what content? What set of knowledge do we include? Some subset, different on each laptop? That’s hard from a manufacturing standpoint. But it would be great if we didn’t just have access to wikipedia in its current form, but could actually use the local laptops as independent storage for a subset of articles.

Remember, a lot of the laptops are going to be put into the world in bandwidth-limited places and they only have a few hundred meg for storage. So using a cooperative caching mechanism might be interesting. Don’t have a page in your local cache? Ask a laptop around you. Then you go to the interweb to find more content.

Hopefully, this method will alleviate Taran Rampersad's concern that Wikipedia information would be outdated the moment its captured, long before its shipped out or read by young and eager minds.

Then again it could be a giant techno-conspricay. Boston's Weekly Dig says:

Is it possible that this OLPC/Wiki consortium is planning to load these poor kids’ laptops with propaganda, create a sort of techno-madrassah?
Ha! Yes, Daily Dig, you are a conspiracy nut.

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I would like to see Wikipedia partner with the rural knowledge centres
of India's "Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre" and provide an
updated version of Wikipedia every two or three months to be loaded the PCs in these centres.

Also, there are several initiatives trying to manufacture low-cost PCs
other than the One laptop per child initiative. Now Wikipedia and eGranery could be preloaded in most of these low-cost PCs with a mechanism for updating
the latest versions say once in two or three monts or as often as possible.
Someone suggests that it is possible to do it with Freedom Toaster.


I could be being a total ignoramus here, but as far as I can see, wikipedia will not be offering OLPC a real "wiki", it will be more like an "closed" encyclopaedia; One Encyclopaedia per Child or OEPC. I tried to add a link, but it was stripped out; the wikipedia entry for OEPC is here:

I can't see how they could offer a wiki; if OLPC were to split off an edited "snap shot" of the wikipedia dataset and then distribute it pre loaded as "OLPC wikipedia", updating would become an absolute nightmare due to edit conflicts. These conflicts would not only be between "OLPC wikipedia" and the wikipedia main dataset, but also between each OLPC user country's "OLPC wikipedia" dataset.

Which edit, if any, would carry greatest weight come synch/update time? If there is to be no updating, then the data will significantly diverge over time (1+ million kids editing different data? Imagine the mayhem!).

Uneditable/updateable seems the easiest way forward.

Having said that, if parallel editing of this OEPC were possible (I imagine a "click here to translate this page" tab), and if this new translation dataset were editable, it could be a great opportunity to start translating wikipedia into local languages.

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