Thursday, November 11, 2010

The future of the #Hindi #Wikipedia is not the future of Wikipedia in #India

On Wikipedia, Critical Point of View Ivy Roberts writes about the future of the Hindi Wikipedia. It is a nice enough article and while she gets some things right, it is still very much an article by someone who "satisfies the stereotypical American in a few too many ways".

The most important issue I have is that India is equated with Hindi. It is not; it is not even the most read Wikipedia by Indians. When you watch the development of the Hindi Wikipedia, there are no localisers championing the Hindi localisation. There has been an influx of machine translated articles bigger then what could be absorbed by the editing community. Finally Hindi is spoken mostly in the North of India while the liveliest Wikimedia activity can be found in Southern India.

When the Wikimedia movement is to flourish in India, it seems obvious that it is best to build on what is already there. When the movement is strongest in the South it makes sense to use the expertise in the south. When the Indian chapter does not accept offers of use with its wiki, it does not bode well for the viability and vitality of an all Indian chapter because the last thing that fits a Wikimedia movement is when its politics are based on divide and conquer.

The article is spot on when it comes to the role of mobile devices in the nearby future. The situation is even more stark; when an organisation does not take its mobile strategy seriously and assumes that its technology will cope, it will be in for a rude awakening. According to an Indian pundit, a cavalier attitude should be a sacking offence for an IT manager. A plan for supporting mobile devices has been communicated. There is however no plan known for supporting scripts and this is a key ingredient and, not only for the  languages of the Indian subcontinent.

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