Feb 29, 2012
As part of its strategic plan to encourage readers and contributors in developing countries showing positive user trends, the Wikimedia Foundation has started working closely in India to encourage regional language Wikipedias in 25 major Indian Languages.
The free encyclopaedia, is worlds 5th most popular website and the only one of this magnitude to be run by a not for profit organisation, works in collaboration with contributors worldwide to update and maintain valuable content on its websites. As part of its strategic plan to encourage readers and contributors in developing countries showing positive user trends, the Wikimedia Foundation has started working closely in India to encourage regional language Wikipedias in 25 major Indian Languages.
The Wikipedia conference in Mumbai in November 2011, followed by a technology "Hackathon" that was spread over 3 days, kickstarted the Indian language revolution in India. A similar "Hackathon" was conducted in Pune over the last weekend saw vast participation from the IT fraternity - individual volunteers belonging to different fields, students, professionals etc. who converged to give their contribution to resurrect our Indian languages and put them on the digital map.
While a minuscule amount of content is already available on Wikipedia in popular Indian languages, the number is less then a drop in the ocean of knowledge, culture and history that is locked away in these languages. Through these "Hackathons" and regular conferences and workshops lined up in various Indian metros over the coming months, Wikimedia foundation, based out of San Francisco, USA, will be working closely with Indian volunteers to make the technology user friendly and make the Indian language fonts and scripts available on Wikipedia so that common people can easily share and access the knowledge in their own mother tongue!
Speaking at the occasion, Ms. Alolita Sharma, Director of Features Engineering, Wikimedia Foundation, said, "Our goal is to increase the reach of Wikipedia and to make it user friendly and accessible for the growing internet savvy Indian population while mobilising a technology platform to enable easy Indian language fonts. The majority of the Indian population speak and write in their own mother tongue and many now have access to the internet, thanks to the mobile telecommunications revolution!
We aim at involving and encouraging sharing of content and knowledge for and by this large Indic language population by building open source tools and technologies to make it easier for reading and editing articles on Wikipedia in Indic languages. We are also working on providing the off line version of language wikis that can be downloaded, scanned or even printed on paper so as to reach to those who do not have internet access 24x7. We just completed and released the off line version of Marathi wikipedia about a weeks go and it has been a great achievement. With the enthusiasm and support of the Indian community, we hope to do this for all the 25 major Indian languages very soon!"
Apart from making the language versions available off line, the engineering and software development team of Wikipedia, along with Indian volunteers, is also developing Android and mobile apps for enabling India language access on your mobile phones! This would mean you can not just access and read wikipedia in your language in your phone but also contribute by adding and editing real-time to articles! So what are you waiting for! Hop on the bandwagon. Do your bit for your language and make its richness available on the Web by adding interesting facts, history, images and more on your favorite Wiki for future generations to learn from and enjoy!