Jun 24, 2019

What would your life be like #WithoutWikipedia?

For more than two years, the people of Turkey have been unable to access or participate on Wikipedia—what Ege, a high school student in the country, calls the “source of the sources.”

And they’re not the only ones affected. Without Wikipedia, the rest of the world is missing the voices, perspectives, and knowledge of Turkey’s 82 million people. We’ve petitioned the European Court of Human Rights to lift this block, part of our continued commitment to knowledge and freedom of expression as fundamental rights for every person.

In light of all this, we wanted to know how people might imagine their lives would be different #WithoutWikipedia.

Hundreds of people responded on social media. Here are a few of their answers:

• • •

@manikesh15: “Are you kidding me? Wikipedia is the answer book for variety of questions, ranging from 1940s Telugu films to scholastic publications, Chemical elements to Sherlock Holmes, Harry  Potter adventures. It’s one place destination for all the queries.”

@buseyerlii: “It’s been hell for us without you guys. Turkey missed you

@DanGFSouza: “Wikipedia, despite its shortcomings, is the best collaborative project in the internet. It amazes me when people join together to build something for the benefit of all. I’d be very disappointed if it closes down or if my country restricts access to it.”

@AashirwadGupta7: “Trust me I can’t imagine life without Wikipedia. I remember the day when I started using internet and only thing I know was Wikipedia where I can find most probably ever answer to my questions it has changed the I act and think my prospective towards life has changed bcoz of it.”

@KC_Velaga: “If I had answered this question six years ago, I would have said; completing my assignments will be tough. Being a Wikimedian for five years now, I will say I would miss the wonderful experience of being part of this incredible community and even more delightful experience”

@iugoaoj: “Depressing. Browsing Wikipedia was my favourite (and maybe only) past time for a good chunk of my childhood”

@alphrho: “Going to library to find outdated encyclopaedias or paying  an online subscription to access one of those.”

@GrungiePunkiePie: “Something BIG is missing #WeMissWikipedia

@1stbullet: “Finding the result on google but not able to click is disappointment and ‘learned desperateness’”

@LeniLaniLucero: “I would not have instant access to knowledge when a question arises about most anything! I would probably pay more attention to the back stories of news stories, instead of waiting until it came up again, and then search for answers or data.”

@alexjstinson: “I would suck at Trivial Pursuit.”

“Wouldn’t know what to stare at (in bed) on my phone at 2.30am.” – @shreshthx

@Merolyn: “We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
And how we found
The same old fears
Wish you were here @Wikipedia”

Mar 27, 2019

European Parliament limits internet freedom

European Parliament limits internet freedom in controversial copyright vote

Today, the European Parliament voted 348–274 to pass a new copyright directive that includes problematic rules that will harm free knowledge. They did so after years of discussionsrevisions, and more recently street protests. We believe that this is a disappointing outcome, the impacts of which will certainly be felt for years to come.

As Articles 15 and 17 (formerly 11 and 13) of the directive will take effect across the European Union (EU), we expect to see direct repercussions on all online activities. Article 15 will require certain news websites to purchase licenses for the content they display. As a result, many websites that helped people find and make sense of the news may choose not to offer this type of service, making it harder to find high-quality news items from trusted sources online. Article 17 will introduce a new liability regime across the EU, under which websites can be sued for copyright violations by their users. This will incentivize websites to filter all uploads and keep only “safe” copyrighted content on their sites, eroding essential exceptions and limitations to copyright by making platforms the judges of what is and isn’t infringement.

Still, there are elements to celebrate in the new directive. A new safeguard for the public domain will ensure that faithful reproductions of public domain works remain uncopyrighted, even as they are digitized. Museums, archives, and libraries will now be able to provide digital access to out-of-commerce works that have not yet fallen into the public domain. Research organizations and cultural heritage institutions will be able to engage in text and data mining on works they have lawful access to.

While we are disappointed, the fight is not over. The impact of the copyright directive will be determined by how lawmakers in each country choose to implement it. As the copyright directive is implemented into national law over the next two years, it presents an opportunity for Europeans to proactively engage with policymakers and ensure national copyright protects internet freedom and empowers everyone to participate in knowledge. Many countries will be opening up their copyright law for amendments for the first time in years. Now is the time to advocate for the good and try to mitigate the harmful parts of the new EU Copyright Directive, and Wikimedia is committed to this task.

Although Articles 15 and 17 remain in the directive, Wikimedians are already working to ensure that they are implemented safely and interpreted in the best possible light in national law, while also pushing for safeguards that benefit the public like freedom of panorama or user-generated content exceptions.

It is disappointing that, in the end, the majority of members of the European Parliament chose not to listen to the millions of voices in Europe concerned about the direction this directive has taken. We look forward to making sure that national lawmakers in the EU member states will understand how their actions in future national legislation will affect internet freedom. Stay tuned to our blog and our public policy portal for future updates and ways you can help.

Jan Gerlach, Senior Public Policy Manager, Legal
Allison Davenport, Technology Law and Policy Fellow, Legal
Wikimedia Foundation

Dec 28, 2018

Kiwix is connecting the unconnected

Kiwix is connecting the unconnected

In Eritrea or Cuba, people routinely buy Wikipedia for one dollar.[1]

Wait, what? Isn’t Wikipedia free? Of course it is—Wikipedia, in fact, is entirely free and very easy to reach if you are not one of four billion people who still do not have internet connectivity.

If you are, however, having problems to access your favourite encyclopedia, then chances are that you may have to turn to Kiwix, which allows you to access educational content in over 100 languages (like Wikipedia) on any computer or smartphone, without the need for a live internet connection.

Think of it as an offline browser: you download the content of your choice, store it on your phone or computer (or even install it on a private wiki hotspot), and voilà: the look and feel of it is exactly like being on the internet, except that you are not.

Video Player

Kiwix currently has three to four million users around the world. 80% of these live in emerging countries, such as Mexico, South Africa, India, and even North Korea. Five years from now, we’re planning to reach a hundred million, all of them enjoying the power of free.

While most people in developed countries tend to complain about information overload, half the planet still suffers from a lack of access to the sum of all knowledge. Thanks to Wikimedia editors and donors, we’re reaching out. If you think that Wikipedia has value for you but also for others at the other end of the world, then visit donate.wikimedia.org or support.kiwix.org and help us with our mission.

Stéphane Coillet-Matillon, Kiwix

Video by Kiwix.org/Victor Grigas, CC BY-SA 4.0; other attributions available on Wikimedia Commons.


[1] That’s not an insignificant amount of money. In Eritrea, one dollar is more than the minimum wage for an entire day. In Cuba, one dollar is above the average daily salary. In Western parlance, that would mean paying between 60 dollars (US daily minimum wage) to 130 dollars (median US individual income).

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