In an attempt to increase the number of people who can use Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation has announced the pilot for Wikipedia Zero, a technology that lets basic feature phone (or “dumbphone”) owners look up and consume Wikipedia content via text message. The Wikimedia Foundation says the three-month pilot, in partnership with the telecoms company Airtel and the South African mobile technologies nonprofit Praekelt Foundation, will open Wikipedia up to at least 70 million new users in sub-Saharan Africa, beginning in Kenya.
It’s a brilliant way to extend the ever-growing world wide knowledge space to the billions of people with phones that lack internet connectivity. I suspect the effort will also provoke Wikipedia to rethink its content model and delivery.
It will also attract a new wave of revenue generation businesses who will range from empowering to exploitative in these markets. Let’s hopefully for empowering models.