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Last active Aug 29, 2015

What would you like to do?
Reading Direction

Another Reading proposal

My proposal is to organize the Reading vertical around the following rationale:

This is Wikimedia's mission:

Empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

And vision:

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment.

Our part of the mission is the Reading part. Essentially our mission could be summarized as:

Empower people around the world by giving them access to educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

Taking this into account and trying to find a sentence that can help us find a useful direction, I would say that what I want us to be thinking about the hardest is:

 Who doesn't have access to educational content under a free license?
 Who can't read and learn the current content?

We need to think about this. All the time.

Part one

The western Global North has access to educational content under a free license. In fact, that mission is fairly well accomplished. That's where Wikipedia was born, that's where it grew, that's were it is successful.

Obviously not focusing on it would entail failing our mission. By letting it lose relevance or disappearing we would effectively remove access to educational content under a free license to a big part of the world and we would've failed.

Goal one: Maintain and improve access to educational content in the Global West North

We can extract several themes that we can focus on. There is still low hanging fruit:

1: Site speed

Speed is important and affects all users. We can do a better job with it.

2: Reduce tech debt

Get MobileFrontend ready for maintenance. Clean up, split pieces where it makes sense. Librarize the code. Properly version and release. Improve test coverage.

This will improve the engineers effectiveness, global confidence on the software, and entice other community members to get involved with this pieces of the software.

3: Empower current and new stakeholders

As part of maintaining, we need to empower the current and new community. What do they need from the Reading vertical. Let's provide and help them maintain the success we have.

4: UX: Continued user experience improvements

Our experience needs polish, love and can improve a lot. Empower design and ux to prototype and test, implement improvements where needed.

Part two

 Who doesn't have access to educational content under a free license?
 Who can't read and learn the current content?

Who? To a greater or lesser extent, those who are not in the Global West North. Namely the “ Rest Of The World™ ”, also known as “ Global South™ ”.

This should be a very important part of our mission. And this is the HARD one.

The environment, culture, internet penetration, and how knowledge is accessed and spread varies greatly from zone to zone. We can't just wait for the whole world to have the internet infrastructure and user behaviours that the north does.

Goal two: Spread and create access to educational content in the Rest Of The World

We need to disseminate our content effectively and globally. It is in our mission.

Where is there access but no knowledge that the content is there? Where is there no access at all to the content?

1: Research, learn, focus

Gather knowledge. Classify the areas and efforts. Stablish the baseline to measure success. Try to answer these previous questions, inform. Stablish the needs and create hypothesis.

We don't need to tackle the whole world at once. For example we can start with South America. Decent internet penetration, less cultural shift. How much do they need us. What can we do. Should they be on the maintenance side of the goals?, etc. Then move to harder areas to understand, repeat.

2: Create the tools to allow a varied ecosystem of content delivery

We need base powerful abstractions that allow us the flexibility to spread the content however the infrastructure works. With fast internet, with slow internet, with unreliable internet, with no internet. With personal computers, with centralized computers. On phones, on laptops. Etc.

This is where bat-shit crazy ideas come along (and the most interesting ones). One of my crazy hard ideas is at the bottom of the document.

3: Adapt and act from what we learn on point 1

Optimize for change, learn, adapt, and try to be helpful and useful to humans. Follow the mission.

Bat-shit crazy proposal 1

These are some of my delusions of what we should do.

I think as the foundation we need to provide base infrastructure for community to act and develop on.

We would do a software that would have (as a baseline):

  • Decentralized installation. Used on the normal web, or installed locally. Independent nodes on a network.
  • No need to have a global internet connection for the software to function.
  • It can export it's content either in full snapshots or in diff-snapshots since specified revision. Maximum flexibility of export.
  • It can import and feed from content exported from other nodes. Either absorb full snapshots, or diffs. Auto-merge when possible. Either implement conflict resolution or just diverge the content without issues.
  • Nodes can be federated and update from each other, either via physical merge, or network sync. Optimize for minimal size and transference of updates. Very little or none centralization.
  • Enable distribution of all the centralized existing wikis content under this format to allow these other installs of software to feed from it, thus enabling access and spread to educational content under a free license anywhere needed.

With this we could:

  • Empower whoever wants to distribute content.
  • Empower isolated silos of content to sync up with each other isolated silos. Let them make their own networks of knowledge. Let them collaborate on their content and knowledge.
  • Empower people to access all the current existing content in new ways that otherwise they couldn't.

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commented Jun 5, 2015

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