Wikipedia to Offer SMS-Based Access

Wikipedia, the Internet’s free encyclopedia, has been looking for ways to provide knowledge to those who do not have easy access to the World Wide Web. It has recently struck a deal with carriers for their subscribers to view Wikipedia articles on the mobile web for free, but the Wiki is taking it a step further.

With the help of a $600,000 Knight News Challenge grant and South Africa’s Praekelt Foundation, the free encyclopedia has launched Wikipedia Zero. This service offers Wikipedia content through SMS and USSD messages, which will be available in a few months. Owners of non-web cell phones can simply send a text message and receive an article in response. We wonder, though, how this service will handle large articles.

“We’re very excited about delivering Wikipedia via text, which we expect to roll out within the next few months,” wrote Kul Takanao Wadhwa, Wikimedia Foundation’s head of mobile. “With the programs, users will send a text request to Wikipedia and, within seconds, they will get the article to their phone.”

Wikipedia, which is run by a non-profit organization, currently has over 25 million articles. It would be a waste if people from developing countries won’t be able to access them.

Source: The Verge, via Engadget

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