14 January 2011

Kenyan school project

in other languages

This semester I will be studying at the University of Dar es Salaam. I arrived in Tanzania on 2 Jan, and spent three days in Dar es Salaam before I and two friends went to Zanzibar on vacation (you can read about that and our travel on our travel blog (Norwegian only)), and spent a week in Zanzibar before I went to Nairobi to participate in the launch of a project for access to offline Wikipedia in Kenyan schools.

I flew from Zanzibar to Nairobi with Fly540 on 12 Jan. The launch, which coincided with Wikipedia's 10th anniversary began at 1400 the next day, and took place at Strathmore University. The attendance was good, my estimate would be more than 100 attendees. Among those attending were most of the people who are active in the school project, who are also setting up Wikimedia Kenya, which will be the first Wikimedia chapter in Africa. Amongst them is Abbas Mahmoud, whom I first met during Wikimania in Gdańsk. The board chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, Ting Chen, whom I have met during several Wikimanias and in the 2008 Berlin chapter meeting, was also present. Another person who is active in Wikimedia Kenya is Oliver Stegen, a German guy who is a bureaucrat in the Swahili Wikipedia. He has lived i East Africa for 15 years, and works as a Swahili-language linguistics teacher (my dream job!), and he actually knows my Swahili teacher in Trondheim, Assibi Amidu! The world is a small place.

The launch began with Grace Kariuki having a presentation of Wikipedia and how it works, followed by a round of questions from the audience, clearing up some mistakes (i.e. Wikipedia/Wikileaks). This was followed by a presentation of the project itself by David Mugo, who talked about how it will be executed. The project is about distributing Wikipedia on CDs and USB sticks to hich schools all over Kenya. It will first be piloted in four regions; Mombasa, Nyeri, Kakamega and Nairobi, and then scaled up from there. The plan is to install offline versions consisting of pre-approved articles in schools with computer access (which not all schools have), and that these installations will be updated in intervals of six months. This is done because few schools have Internet access, and schools also have problems with textboox access. Having access to Wikipedia will therefore be a major asset for them, and offering this directly promotes Wikipedia's goal of spreading all the world's knowledge to everyone in the world.

In the end Ting Chen spoke about what the Wikimedia Foundation is and does, and spoke about how it is for both Africans and Wikipedia that we get more contributors from Africa who can write about African topics. Something I was not aware of was that there are more articles in the English Wikipedia pertaining to New York City than there are articles pertaining to Africa. These are frightful statistics, and is a systemic bias that must be conquered. Chen's speech seemed inspiring, and several participants said they wanted to start contribute. That's progress!

Also present during the launch was a representative from the ICT commission of the Kenyan government, who seemed to think this is a positive project that can help increase the level of the education in Kenya.

Personally I think this is a fantastic project. This project is something that will really help people in the grassroots. It is simply something that makes the world into a better place.

16 May 2010

Facebook page for Wikipedia in Norwegian (Bokmål)

I have created a fan page for Wikipedia in Norwegian (Bokmål) on Facebook. The purpose of the page is to publicize Wikipedia's featured content, our weekly competitions and hopefully to recruit new contributors. So become a fan and invite all the Norwegians you know! ;-)

28 December 2009

German-language Wikipedia now has 1,000,000 articles

Ukas konkurranse

Congratulations to the German-language Wikipedia, which reached 1,000,000 articles today! It is the second Wikipedia to reach this milestone (second to English of course). The millionth article was “Ernie Wasson”. Congratulations!

24 January 2009

Britannica's got balls

I must say that I admire Britannica editor Jorge Cauz' courage. In the same press release they both announce that they will start plagiarizing* Wikipedia, and that they are a lat better than Wikipedia (paraphrased). But if that was the case, why bump up the competition in the first case? It is obvious that they are afraid of us, and rightly so.

Britannica's tactics remind me of the Republican tactics used in the U.S. election – instead of focusing on what they themselves are doing right, they focus on what we are doing wrong. And that's not going to get them anymhere.

Luckily the editor-in-chief of Store norske leksikon, the Norwegian counterpart of Britannica, is a lot more positive towards Wikipedia (as some may remember, SNL is also is opening up like Britannica). He realizes that Wikipedia and SNL fill out different, yet tightly-wound niches in the market of knowledge. Hopefully there is room for both.

* Yeah, I know it's not really plagiarizing – they of course have every right to do what they do, and it is a good thing that they do. But they would never have needed to if it wasn't for us.

19 December 2008

Scandinavian Planet Wikimedia launched

Thanks to Rob, who fixed bug 16511, the Scandinavian-language Planet Wikimedia is now a reality. I proposed the idea in all the village pumps for Scandinavian languages in November, and the idea got lots of support. Also, three Wikipedians started blogging because they liked the idea.

It is the first multi-language Planet, using the ISO 639-5 code gmq, representing North Germanic languages (also known as Scandinavian languages in the anglophone world). The interface has been translated to all Scandinavian languages with Wikipedias (yes, even Faroese), but the blog posts are shared between all languages.

I am hoping this will lead to more experience-sharing and opinion exchange between Scandinavians – we have a good coöperation already, but as with pretty much anything related to Wikipedia, it has room for improvement.

13 December 2008

Great Scandinavian news

Within just 6 hours today, the Swedish Wikipedia and the Norwegian (Bokmål) Wikipedia reached the 300.000 and 200.000 article milestones, respectively.

The Swedish Wikipedia’s 300.000th was Arvidsjaurs kyrka (nb), about the local church in Arvidsjaur. It was created at 14:23 CET.

The Norwegian (Bokmål) Wikipedia’s 200.000th article was John de Vere, 12. jarl av Oxford (en) (nl). It was created at 20:26 CET.

The Danish Wikipedia is also coming close to a big milestone; as of writing this, it has 98.700 articles. The Nynorsk Wikipedia has currently has 43.200 articles. In total, the mutually intelligible Continental Scandinavian language Wikipedias have about 641.000 articles – if they had been combined, that would have been the fourth largest Wikipedia by number of articles, below French and above Polish.

If the Insular Scandinavian language Wikipedias, Icelandic (23.500) and Faroese (3.500) had been counted, the article count would have been 668.000.

Another bit of Scandinavian news is that a Scandinavian-language Planet Wikimedia will soon be set up (only waiting for Brion *cough*), collecting blogs in Scandinavian languages on one page (and one feed). It will be located at http://gmq.planet.wikimedia.org/ (gmq is the ISO 639-5 code for North Germanic languages).