Wikinews:Digital Divide

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Wikinews cannot claim to be a project for the whole world, by the whole world, of the whole world, unless we seriously tackle the digital divide. It is not enough to wait for governments and corporations to make empty promises, nor to make empty promises ourselves!

Project in some small, poor country where locals want internet access[edit]

Local desire[edit]

There is no point trying to impose internet access and Wikinews on people in places where these are not present. However, we do know of poor places in the world where local people have started to organise their own wiki-like or Indymedia-like news services. Some examples - please add to this list:

The above are some points of contact so that you can't say but we don't know anyone in those countries or they don't have internet access, so we have to impose decisions on them without their participation in the decisions, because they cannot, technically speaking, participate

Example project[edit]

The project would aim to:

  • Finance 1000 permanent broadband access connections to 1000 villages and city locations in that region, with a public access internet place with at least 3-4 GNU/Linux machines in each place
    • Startup cost: hardware = 4000 * 800 euros (machines which can also function as servers for local wikis, email servers etc) = 3,200,000 euros
    • Typical cost per year assuming prices 5 times higher than in USA/Europe = 1000 * 300 euros/year = 300,000 euros
  • Total Budget Estimate = 3.3 million euros during first year, or else 5 million euros would finance start up and internet access for about 6 years assuming local machines are kept in running condition or else replaced independently of Wikimedia resources.
  • make sure that these 1000 locations are distributed among government controlled areas, opposition controlled areas, and places which are independent from both
  • ensure some process so that people going to these internet places are secure and can contribute anonymously but with "nicknames" (nicks) - how to do this process is not obvious: unless the locals want it and believe it to be secure, it would not work
  • ensure that there are meta-processes, e.g. via wiki discuss pages, so that people from the 1000 places can constructively communicate together (not just with people a long way from the events actually happening), avoid sterile edit wars, etc.
  • Ensure that these places do not end up being dominated by an elite - surely poor people should have the same human rights (e.g. to not be killed) as rich people
    • for example, sociocological barriers would have to be overcome, for example so that dark-skinned people (seen as inferior in many countries around the world) or women or whatever socially disadvantaged group have sufficient access in order to correct what they perceive as false reports on events
  • be willing to support the safety of the local people participating - who will increase their risks of:
    • being imprisoned or killed by local government or opposition groups
    • being killed by USA/UK/France armed forces
    • having their internet connection cut off
    • losing their jobs
    • being labelled as traitors or terrorists
  • possible ways of support include front page stories whenever local wikinews-ists are threatened, proposals of actions at local embassies or against, e.g., the USA/UK/France governments when they are involved in killing locals or repressing local free speech


Strategy[edit]

Would it be better to aim at a wide project over many parts of the world or rather start with a small example region in order to have more chance of success and afterwards gain more popular support for a clearly successful project?

Arguments in favour of a small region[edit]

  • By having a massive number of Wikinews cafes in a small country or a small region of a large country (like India), there would be more chance of reaching a sufficiently diverse range of the population that they would be forced to compare and contrast their different versions of the news. Experience on wikipedia, where decisions on what is NPOV affect people much less directly than when reporting news events, is that once a sufficient number of people of diverse backgrounds, activities gets involved, the quality of the articles goes up considerably. In debates about which ethnic or demographic group is doing what to what other group, for example, the dominant group will generally say, our point of view is neutral, these others don't know what they're talking about, they can't speak properly, they are ignorant of the facts, they are just saying propaganda, .... And the dominant groups are generally the ones who best speak English or ... other European languages. The most oppressed groups - whose news we should hear a lot of if we really want news from the whole world - often only speak a very local language, and often have high illiteracy rates, let alone internet access.
  • It would be easier to find a group of locals who want to try the project in a small, specific area.
  • It would probably be easier to raise funds from wikireaders for a concrete project where it's known that there's a local group interested in trying it and where it seems feasible.

Arguments against having a single small region[edit]

  • If only one small region is chosen, there would be a big risk that this is claimed as either supporting a pro-USA region or an anti-USA region, etc. etc.
    • Choosing 2-3 regions (e.g. one in Central Asia, one in sub-saharan Africa) would minimise this risk.
  • There could be jealousies, political rivalry etc in choosing the region.

Arguments in favour of a big region[edit]

  • Well human rights are global, so EVERYONE has rights to them, not just those who happen to be lucky enough to fall in some random area. The bellman 08:55, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Sure, but wikimedia does not have a $500 billion budget. Maybe in five-ten year's time we will (this would require a lot of continued adaptability and self-organising, but w:exponential growth is exponential growth: it could happen...). But not in 2005. By starting in some small region first, and showing that it's effective, there's more chance that people would donate a lot more and then a global project could become practical. Boud 12:39, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)