Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What comes first, the study or the paradigm shift

Citation needed
#Wikipedia on a #mobile sucks big time for many languages. All it takes to realise this is to try it. Even if you don't, our statistics on mobile traffic for Wikipedia prove this conclusively.

When we are to generate more traffic, it is relevant to realise that a mobile is essentially a computer with a different form factor. As mobiles gain their smarts, it is not so much that they become better looking but more that they gain more attributes from a computer.

The big difference between computers and mobile phones is that computers have an open architecture while mobiles do not. Many of the mobile architectures are based on computer architectures and fortunately displaying text is one of these. As a result, the smarter the phone, the easier it is to send web fonts to a device and get a readable result.

There is proof that we can show Malayalam text on an iPhone. When we implement web fonts technology, not only mobiles will benefit. It will bring a paradigm shift to reading Wikipedia; as long as a device can show Unicode properly, any Wikipedia will be readable.

Does it take a study to understand such benefits? No. Does implementation invalidate the study? Possibly. Is there a reason to wait on implementation of web fonts? Yes, it takes more development. Should this development get the highest priority? Depends on how highly we value bringing knowledge to more people.


Ryan Lane said...

How do the statistics for mobile rate against statistics for other sites?

I agree that proper language support is necessary, but saying it will dramatically increase the mobile support isn't necessarily the case.

Ryan Lane said...

Let me follow up a little:

I believe there could be other possible causes for lower mobile numbers. For instance, our site works fairly well for smart phones, but not necessarily for non-smart phones. Most phones in the regions you mention are not smart phones. Also, it is fairly difficult to edit from a smart phone, and impossible (as far as I know) from a non-smart phone.

Furthermore, how good is our content in the languages of the regions? Do the phones in those regions generally have wap or data support?

I totally agree with you that language support is important, I'm just saying there are a lot of questions to answer, and it's important to know some of the answers before the community focuses its attention too strongly.

BTW, these are my personal opinions. I do ops and have essentially no input or control over such issues ;).