Wikipedia content to appear on $100 laptop

Wikipedia content is likely to feature as early content provided by the One Laptop Per Child project to equip schoolchildren with affordable notebook computers.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has confirmed plans to include elements of the Wikipedia free online encyclopaedia as the first element in its content repository.

Headed by Nicholas Negroponte, the former head of the MIT Media Laboratory, OLPC aims to equip schoolchildren worldwide, particularly in developing nations, with their own laptops. The project was previously dubbed the "US$100 laptop" initiative but of late it appears the first models will cost more like US$130.

"We've been aware of the OLPC project for some time," Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, said at the Wikimania conference in Massachusetts. "We've been talking for a long time about how we might be able to help them with what they're doing."

He was careful not to characterize the move as a joint venture between Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit corporation that operates Wikipedia, and OLPC. Like any user of the online encyclopedia, OLPC can freely use Wikipedia's content, Wales said.

Walter Bender, president of software and content at OLPC, said that the organization is experimenting with ways of loading pieces of the Wikipedia encyclopedia on to prototypes of the laptop. He expects the first finished versions of the device to ship in the first quarter of 2007.

Given that each laptop only has 0.5 gigabytes of flash memory and the encyclopedia is much larger in size, the device's mesh network would come into play so a child could have access to Wikipedia. Each laptop acts as a node in a mesh peer-to-peer ad hoc network, meaning that if one laptop is directly accessing the Internet, when other machines power on, they can share that single online connection.

OLPC sees wikis as being proactive in the process of education. "A whole new generation can contribute to Wikipedia," Bender said. A child can learn a lot through the Wikipedia process of contributing and then critiquing, he added.

The laptop will also feature an e-book reader that includes a wiki so that children can share their thoughts on what they're reading, Bender said.

Responding to reports about various countries' interest in the laptop project, Bender said: "We have no signed commitment from any country." However, OLPC has been in serious discussions with the heads of a number of nations, notably Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and Thailand. "A few others are still being discussed," he added.

At the moment, OLPC is identifying which Wikipedia content would make sense to offer in which countries and in which languages. For himself, Bender is a big fan of maps and "would love to see a great set of maps" available through the encyclopedia.

OLPC is also doing a lot of work around what kind of free courseware to provide on the laptops.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

China Martens

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?