Bringing Wikipedia To More Users, One Text Message At A Time

The company has begun a three-month trial of Wikipedia Zero in Kenya. It works exclusively via SMS and is designed to reach the millions of people who have mobile phones but no Internet access.

What's the Latest Development?

This month Wikipedia began a pilot of a new service, Wikipedia Zero, that sends articles to mobile phones via text message. The trial is taking place in Kenya, where the company is partnering with mobile provider Airtel, and will last for three months. To access the service, the user only has to dial *515# to receive a text prompting them to look for articles. Each article is divided into easy-to-read, text-message-sized chunks. 

What's the Big Idea?

On the Wikimedia Foundation blog, executive Dan Foy puts it simply: "Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule. That means billions of people currently cannot see Wikipedia on their phones." Africa in particular has seen an explosion of feature phone usage in recent years, and in some ways the industry is more advanced there than elsewhere, as companies like Wikipedia and Facebook look for new ways to work within the existing technology infrastructure. While HumanIPO editor Tom Jackson says Wikipedia Zero will be welcomed, he also hopes "it comes with the same warnings that European and American kids are given about taking Wikipedia at face value!"

Photo Credit:

Read it at BBC News

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less