Get Wikipedia Into Print

I really hope this will happen soon. Jimmy’s been talking about it for a while, but while I can see the technical problems, I think it’s just too important not to press ahead with: reports that Wikipedia May Soon Be Available In Print:

Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia written and edited by Internet users, may soon be available in print for readers in the developing world.

According to Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales, content from the web site may also be burned onto CDs and DVDs so computer users in places like Africa, who lack access to high-speed Internet, could consult parts of the reference work offline.

Wales, a 39-year-old former options trader, set up Wikipedia in 2001. The site operates through the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that relies on donations to pursue its goal of spreading knowledge for free.

Here’s the original story from Reuters.

Go for it. My big worry nowadays is that people who are designing and building stuff for the web are all on big screens, fast computers and fast connections. Most of the developing world is still on expensive dial-up and slow computers with bad screens. That’s the digital divide. It’s not the haves and the have-nots, it’s the ‘have fast connections’ folks and the rest of us with connections that are intermittent and slow. For the slow world hard copy or CD-ROM versions are just what is needed.

As for folk who say Wikipedia is not ready, or uneven, I would say don’t worry. Most folk who use Wikipedia print or CD-ROM edition are not going to have had much of a choice. This may be the first encyclopedia they ever have access to, so hand-wringing about the quality of some pieces is a bit like saying you shouldn’t give free copies of Microsoft Windows to the developing world because it still has some bugs. Wikipedia has some bugs but it’s a fabulous resource, and the great thing about a little bit of wisdom is that it makes people smarter. Let the end-user decide what information is good and what isn’t.

Mouse Over Beethoven

The BBC’s experiment with Beethoven was a huge success, with 650,000 downloads of th performances in 10 days or so, according to

The Beethoven ExperienceBBC Radio 3’s website has recorded more than 650,000 downloads after a week-long Beethoven special.

The Beethoven Experience ran from 6 to 10 June and featured live performances of the composer’s complete works by the BBC Philharmonic orchestra.

Web users were able to download the broadcast in full which was free and available on the site for a further seven days.

“This trial was all about gauging listeners’ appetite for downloads and the results are astonishing,” said Simon Nelson, controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive.

As Buzz Jarvis points out, downloads are so much better for listeners than streams:

Obvious lesson to all broadcasters: Let there be downloads. All the folks who are bragging about their streams would be blown away by floods of downloads. Distribution is so yesterday.

Simon Nelson, controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive, expressed his intention thus: “We are hopeful that we have attracted people who wouldn’t previously have explored much classical music, as well as inspiring others to embrace digital technology.” Sounds like he made an impact. But why is it that listening to free classical music is seen as a way of encouraging a broader interest in the genre (and, presumably, encouraging the listener to buy classical music) but when the music is pop, it’s seen as dangerous encroachment on the rights and prerogative of the music industry and has to be stamped out?

News: Printer Cartridge Clones Get Legal Boost

 One in the eye for the printer manufacturers: IDG reports that a ruling this week from the U.S. Copyright Office could have broad effects on the market for low-cost, third-party printer cartridges.Lexmark is suing manufacturer Static Control Components (SCC) of Sanford, North Carolina, which makes computer chips for third-party ink cartridges. Lexmark says SCC’s chips contain copyrighted Lexmark computer code and consequently violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ban on circumventing digital technology that protects copyrighted material.
Without taking a position on whether SCC’s chips illegally incorporate Lexmark code, the Copyright Office has ruled that the DMCA does not block such usage.
Last year Lexmark began using a chip in some of its cartridges that communicates with the company’s printers and verifies that the cartridge is from Lexmark. Without that verification, the cartridge won’t work. SCC’s Smartek chips mimic the Lexmark chips so third-party cartridges can pose as official ones.