Criticizing Wikimedia and Wikipedia

Posts Tagged ‘OLPC

Is Wikipedia in recession? After recent announcement of Nicolas Negroponte that OLPC is having difficulties, it seems the global financial and economical crisis won’t pass on non-profits by. In its last issue, the Wikipedia Signpost wrote the project is experiencing edit decline – have the problems come to the world’s biggest collaborative encyclopedia? One could hope not so, but such online-charity projects rely heavy upon volunteers, and if a volunteer has problems, he/she does not contribute.

On the other hand, the Wikipedia project has been growing for years, so a downturn would be no surprise… I am wondering what will happen to Free and Open Source Software projects and businesses – are they a better and more sustainable model than the rest of the world?

I lately stumbled upon Nicolas Negroponte’s Spotlight MIT 2008 OLPC keynote. His speech revealed some interesting One Laptop per Child facts that were new to me – the project is close to manufacturing/shipping 1 million of XO-1 devices, which have cost in average $230 a piece. OLPC foundation itself has 23 full time employees and a turnaround of $230M. Negroponte also described current OLPC situation and explained some hopes and fears of the project.

OLPC caught a lot of press at the time of its creation, which went however there faster and there slower down and one did not hear about the project in the meantime a lot. Many people were also concentrated on the “$100 laptop” buzzword only. But today, with $187 per device, the project is closer than ever to starting successfully fulfilling its mission of third world’s education.

One of the early critics was Wayan Vota in his OLPC News posts. As a former Geekcorps director and a world citizen, Wayan criticized all BUT the laptop – it was mainly the implementation what he saw underestimated. After all, Negroponte does not hide the failures of the project and admits that a lot of things went wrong or are not developing as expected. However I see these “failures” as very minor ones in such a great challenge, which OLPC without question is.

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  • Jan Kucera (Kozuch): to zxq9: I think you are wrong. Facebook and Wikimedia are in exactly the same market - trying to attract new users. Finally, the Internet is only one
  • zxq9: Wikimedia does exist in the same space as commercial sites such as Facebook. But to imagine that they are literally in the same market is wrong. Faceb
  • Jan Kucera (Kozuch): Interesting insight, especially on the number of user interfaces! However, I think Wikimedia is in the same competition for users (readers and editors