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Fwd: Jimmy Wales seeks the development of Wikipedia in African languages

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  • bisharat_dot_net
    THis item is interesting. I missed it partly due to travels and partly due to connectivity issues... ... Jimmy Wales seeks the development of Wikipedia in
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 8, 2010
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      THis item is interesting. I missed it partly due to travels and partly due to connectivity issues...

      --- In AfricanLanguages@yahoogroups.com, "polyglute" <polyglute@...> wrote:

      Jimmy Wales seeks the development of Wikipedia in African languages

      Friday 25 December 2009 / by Capucine Dayen, Denis Carlier
      In an interview during the month of November, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, talked about the state of development of the participatory online encyclopedia in Africa. He expressed his wish to develop Wikipedia in more African languages. He believes it is necessary to ensure that more people have access to knowledge and culture. According to him, the progressive expansion of the Internet in Africa should create a dynamic to attract more Africans online.

      In an interview broadcasted by the BBC on the 3rd and 10th of November, the American founder of Wikipedia, the participatory online encyclopedia, said with optimism that "the developing world is becoming more of a primary interest" for the site.

      The primary goal of providing all individuals around the globe with a free access to knowledge in their own language is being achieved. Though this objective is yet to be reached on the African continent, Jimmy Wales is confident that the situation will evolve.

      In terms of the use of African languages on Wikipedia, a few of them "have a substantial size at all," regrets Jimmy Wales. For instance, Swahili (widely spoken in the Eastern and Central African regions) "has around 10 000 entries [14 650 November 16, editor's note], but that's quite tiny compared to what we think of as a successful project with 200 000 entries." Alone, the English edition of Wikipedia has received over 3,1 million entries.

      The founder indicates that his team is focused on reaching a wider audience in Africa. But the focus is how to encourage people who are educated in English or French in these areas to participate in Wikipedia in their home language "to help people who can neither read English nor French."

      In 2005, Kasper Souren from the Netherlands took the initiative of donating one dollar per article to those who write for the Bambara (Mali) edition of Wikipedia. However, The New York Times highly criticized the project, due to the supposed `free' culture of Wikipedia. From a few hundred articles in August 2006, the Bambara edition went down to 280 articles in November 2009.

      On the question of the number of participants in Africa, Jimmy Wales says "the figures are so low that they are too difficult to measure. "The core reason being," he explains, that "the number of people connected to the Internet in Africa is quite small, even in developed areas of Africa." The price of broad band in a country like South Africa, for instance "is quite exorbitant."

      However, the situation on the continent is taking a positive turn and Jimmy Wales is hopeful for the future. Most recently, the bandwith in Western Africa was increased. "That" according to him "trickles down eventually to Internet cafés" as it allows them to get a better connection, but also buy new computers, creating a greater availability.

      Jimmy Wales affirms that things will change in the next 5 to 10 years. While we are currently limited by the uneven broadcasting of information, the greater availability of the internet worldwide will soon allow everyone to have "cultural influences from places we know almost nothing about today."

      --- End forwarded message ---
    • bisharat_dot_net
      BTW, Happy New Year 2010 all. I am still putting Dec. or 09 on things, but catching up. This item - which apparently came from
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 8, 2010
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        BTW, Happy New Year 2010 all. I am still putting Dec. or '09 on things, but catching up.

        This item - which apparently came from http://en.afrik.com/article16517.html - brings to mind a few ideas around the thought that a lot in this area can be generated or catalyzed by key players in Africa. For example:

        * Language & literacy authorities in African countries. THey are charged with developing materials and undertaking language and linguistic projects. What about investing in relevant African language Wikipedias? What you put on Wikipedia can also be printed up at community telecenters when hard copy is needed for sharing in where there is no internet. It is also possible to put an entire Wikipedia on CD.

        * Education ministries. In many countries there is in theory or practice some use of African languages in the classroom, but always there is the issue of lack of materials. Why not invest in developing African language Wikipedia content on basic science, history, math, etc. topics? Here too printing or CDs could be an option. Where OLPC or similar projects bring computers into schools, the content could be used off the internet or CDs.

        * Extension services. One of the problems with extension services is the articulation between English or French training and official government communication, and the languages of farmers. Extension agents translate as need be but they could be supported by translated materials available via something like Wikipedia. Why not invest a little in content relating to agriculture, health, microenterprise, etc. that can be viewed at telecenters or printed out?

        * Donor agencies and development projects. In their own work and in connection with any of the above, why not put some of their material in local languages on Wikipedia, or assist African organizations in so doing?

        * Celebrities. I asked someone from Bangladesh once about what he thought could energize localization of software and content in various countries. He suggested that getting celebrities involved could be key - because that draws attention to the issue, puts a certain interest factor on it for many people who wouldn't notice the issue otherwise. Jimmy Wales has done well to work on things like Wikipedia academies and all. But maybe he could now start teaming up with selected celebrities in different countries to highlight the role of multilingual Wikipedias for youth of those cultures and linguistic heritages.

        Another thing about Wikipedia is that it is not just a temporary thing. Build something in a language online, and it can be the foundation for more in the future.

        Anyway, just a few thoughts...

        Don

        --- In afrophonewikis@yahoogroups.com, "bisharat_dot_net" <dzo@...> wrote:
        >
        > THis item is interesting. I missed it partly due to travels and partly due to connectivity issues...
        >
        > --- In AfricanLanguages@yahoogroups.com, "polyglute" <polyglute@> wrote:
        >
        > Jimmy Wales seeks the development of Wikipedia in African languages
        >
        > Friday 25 December 2009 / by Capucine Dayen, Denis Carlier
        > In an interview during the month of November, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, talked about the state of development of the participatory online encyclopedia in Africa. He expressed his wish to develop Wikipedia in more African languages. He believes it is necessary to ensure that more people have access to knowledge and culture. According to him, the progressive expansion of the Internet in Africa should create a dynamic to attract more Africans online.
        ...
      • Ras Feqade
        ... In an interview during the month of November, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, talked about the state of development of the participatory online
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 8, 2010
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          --- On Fri, 1/8/10, bisharat_dot_net <dzo@...> wrote:


          In an interview during the month of November, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, talked about the state of development of the participatory online encyclopedia in Africa. He expressed his wish to develop Wikipedia in more African languages. He believes it is necessary to ensure that more people have access to knowledge and culture.



          Re: "ensure that more people have access to culture" - I would advise caution using this kind of rhetoric; if there's one way to turn many Africans off, it's with the old attitude like "We got da culture, and now we're here to give you Africans some access to it".   


          That might be the way it's taught in the west, but I can tell you most Africans do NOT see it that way.  The way they see it, THEY got more culture in their ankles than you have in your whole entire body - and if you're coming to them, it might be because you want to learn something about culture - not teach them about yours (which they don't really want to know any more about than they already do.)


        • Siebrand Mazeland
          Hi Ras. I find your response very interesting. Why would you interpret the quote below as a paternalistic (and probably also colonialist) one, instead of an
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 8, 2010
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            Hi Ras.

             

            I find your response very interesting. Why would you interpret the quote below as a paternalistic (and probably also colonialist) one, instead of an altruistic and genuinely caring one?

             

            Personally, I am involved in the localization of open source software, MediaWiki being the most important one, and even though I have made many attempts to try and find speakers/writers of languages from Africa to localize the open software that is supported on the platform that I manage, I consider I have only had relatively little result – we have managed to recruit a great Hausa translator, though, lately. I think I am, just like Jimmy Wales, genuinely prepared to give what I have for the Wikimedia principles:  Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

             

            In some ways Jimmy from the US, and I from The Netherlands have been very fortunate compared to many in Africa, in others we may be lacking qualities. I am quite certain neither of us want to take a colonialist approach, or would like our approach to be mistaken for it.

             

            What we do share, I think, is the will to allow communities all over the world to empower *themselves* and provide them with the tools to do that – well, the tools we think they need. In Jimmy’s and my case the most important tool we can think of in an information technology context is a wiki platform in which knowledge can be put, and be read, free of charge, by anyone, without any organization commercially benefiting from it.

             

            I also think that Jimmy, I and many others would be prepared to do more: listen to you and others, and act upon your tooling needs if different tooling would be required in your contexts.

             

            I hope we can continue this dialog in a way that will benefit you.

             

            Cheers!

             

            Siebrand Mazeland

            translatewiki.net

             

             

            From: afrophonewikis@yahoogroups.com [mailto:afrophonewikis@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ras Feqade
            Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 8:09 PM
            To: afrophonewikis@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [afrophonewikis] Fwd: Jimmy Wales seeks the development of Wikipedia in African languages

             

             

            Re: "ensure that more people have access to culture" - I would advise caution using this kind of rhetoric; if there's one way to turn many Africans off, it's with the old attitude like "We got da culture, and now we're here to give you Africans some access to it".   

            That might be the way it's taught in the west, but I can tell you most Africans do NOT see it that way.  The way they see it, THEY got more culture in their ankles than you have in your whole entire body - and if you're coming to them, it might be because you want to learn something about culture - not teach them about yours (which they don't really want to know any more about than they already do.)

             

          • Ras Feqade
            ... I think it s just that this last sentence doesn t translate very well, as Africans in general have learned from experience to be wary of anyone promising
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 8, 2010
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              > "In an interview during the month of November, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, talked about the state of development of the participatory online encyclopedia in Africa. He expressed his wish to develop Wikipedia in more African languages. He believes it is necessary to ensure that more people have access to knowledge and culture."

              I think it's just that this last sentence doesn't translate very well, as Africans in general have learned from experience to be wary of anyone promising to give them "access to culture"... Maybe it just wasn't proofread enough; on further reflection I suppose he meant to say "It ist necessary to ensure that more people have access to share their knowledge and culture." In which case, I'm sorry for the confusion and for any nitpicking.

              Regards, Ras


              --- On Fri, 1/8/10, Siebrand Mazeland <s.mazeland@...> wrote:

              From: Siebrand Mazeland <s.mazeland@...>
              Subject: RE: [afrophonewikis] Fwd: Jimmy Wales seeks the development of Wikipedia in African languages
              To: afrophonewikis@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Friday, January 8, 2010, 2:29 PM

               

              Hi Ras.

               

              I find your response very interesting. Why would you interpret the quote below as a paternalistic (and probably also colonialist) one, instead of an altruistic and genuinely caring one?

               

              Personally, I am involved in the localization of open source software, MediaWiki being the most important one, and even though I have made many attempts to try and find speakers/writers of languages from Africa to localize the open software that is supported on the platform that I manage, I consider I have only had relatively little result – we have managed to recruit a great Hausa translator, though, lately. I think I am, just like Jimmy Wales, genuinely prepared to give what I have for the Wikimedia principles: Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

               

              In some ways Jimmy from the US, and I from The Netherlands have been very fortunate compared to many in Africa, in others we may be lacking qualities. I am quite certain neither of us want to take a colonialist approach, or would like our approach to be mistaken for it.

               

              What we do share, I think, is the will to allow communities all over the world to empower *themselves* and provide them with the tools to do that – well, the tools we think they need. In Jimmy’s and my case the most important tool we can think of in an information technology context is a wiki platform in which knowledge can be put, and be read, free of charge, by anyone, without any organization commercially benefiting from it.

               

              I also think that Jimmy, I and many others would be prepared to do more: listen to you and others, and act upon your tooling needs if different tooling would be required in your contexts.

               

              I hope we can continue this dialog in a way that will benefit you.

               

              Cheers!

               

              Siebrand Mazeland

              translatewiki. net


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