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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wales: 10 things will be free.

Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales is guest blogging for Lawrence Lessig. Theme: Ten things that will be free. ("...the point of naming the list "will be free" rather than "should be free" or "must be free" is that I am making concrete predictions rather than listing a pie in the sky list of things I wish to see.")

1. The encyclopedia. (Of course.) Wales charts a plan to get wikipedia into the developing world, where the vast majority of people are.

Third, while it is important to provide our work in important global or "colonial" languages, we also think it is extremely important to provide our work in languages that people speak natively, at home. (Swahili, Hindi, etc.)

I will define a reasonable degree of success as follows, while recognizing that it does leave out a handful of people around the world who only speak rare languages: this problem will be solved when Wikipedia versions with at least 250,000 articles exists in every language which has at least 1,000,000 speakers and significant efforts exist for even very small languages. There are many local languages which are spoken by people who also speak a more common international language -- both facts are relevant.

I predict this will be completed in 15 years. With a 250,000-article cutoff, English and German are both past the threshold. Japanese and French will be there in a year. Several other languages will be there in two years.

2. School curricula, from kindergarten to college. "...this is a much bigger job than the encyclopedia, and it will take much longer ... An open project with dozens of professors adapting and refining a textbook on a particular subject will be a very difficult thing for a proprietary publisher to compete with.

(Update: Here's the full list.)

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