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Sharing knowledge offline
Communities such as Appropedia build open content online that is useful to many people, including those without internet access. Then there are several ways this can reach the users/beneficiaries, mostly in a "free market" way. For example:
- They access the internet via computer
- They access the internet via mobile phone (becoming much more widespread in Africa and around the globe)
- A friend or relative accesses the information, prints and shares it. Many villages have young people who work or study in a city where they're more likely to have internet access.
- A friend or relative accesses the information, and tells them what they've learnt (in conversation, by phone or text message)
- A teacher accesses the information, and shares it with their students
- A development worker accesses the information, and applies it in their own work, shares it with people they work with, and/or runs an education program (for a day, a week, a year) using this material.
- A development organization or motivated individual prints and distributes information.
- Teachers, development workers, development organizations and motivated individual can burn CDs, DVDs or USBs of content bundles and share them through similar channels, where computers are available but a good internet connection is not.
This mostly relies on the initiative of individuals, with a few supportive actions from us:
- We have changed to a license (CC-BY-SA) which allows for printed copies to be freely made, with a simple attribution.
- We have instructions for how to download and browse an offline copy of Appropedia, and are now setting up an automatic weekly dump of content. This needs more work to make it easier, but it's already possible to get and use an offline copy.
The Appropedia community could do more, by working with people focused on offline content. Some of us know people working on this, and have given thought to it - see the notes at Offline content collaboration.
We're interested in taking a more active role in reaching people who are offline. If we find even a modest amount of external funding, we could do something very significant - especially as we are already working in the field, have contacts and have been developing strategies.
- CDs, DVDs or USBs
- WikiReaderW - designed for Wikipedia, and thus can be made to work with MediaWiki sites such as Appropedia and Akvopedia. WikiReader works in a disconnected offline context, perfect for places such as rural Mali or outlying parts of rural Bangladesh.
- In a semi-connected, partly online context: smartphones, mobile internet and standard broadband are available, but the availability of connections are relatively scarce and/or expensive. Many villages have at least one person with a phone, often acting as an agent, charging a small fee for people to use the phone. In this context, a possible solution is a soft WikiReader client that runs on a smartphone against a WikiReader database on a memory card in the phone.