Wikimedia's Wikipedia Zero project will let people look up Wikipedia articles using text-messages. This will bring Wikipedia to billions of people who lack smartphones:
We want to enable access to free knowledge for every last human being. For many readers in developing countries, their primary (and often only) access to the internet is via mobile. However, barriers exist that can prevent users from reading Wikipedia and accessing free knowledge on their mobile devices.
Cost - While handset prices have reduced sharply around the world, data costs are still prohibitively expensive for many users. From the 2010 mobile readers' survey, for example, we saw that 21% of users listed "too much data usage" as a critical barrier to access. That number rises dramatically when we consider people who have capable devices, but are not even yet mobile readers. We need to remove the cost of data as a deterrent to reading Wikipedia.
Speed - The mobile survey also pointed out that speed of connection is the top barrier (44% of users) for using Wikipedia on a mobile phone. Therefore, we need to offset this barrier by offering an experience that loads faster.
There are two outcomes to this. First, new readers will be encouraged to access free knowledge for the first time, knowing that the barriers are low. Second, existing readers will not be obstructed from accessing knowledge when they need and want it.
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Boing Boing readers already know about MakieLab, the startup where my friends and I make 3D printed, customizable dolls called Makies.
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