This weekend I am attending the wedding of my friends Martin Varshavsky and Nina Wiegand. (They did a civil wedding in Hawaii a little while ago; this is the more traditional Jewish wedding.) I wanted to get a gift, but first of all, Martin is a very successful entrepreneur who obviously can have any ordinary thing that he wants. And on top of that, the wedding website suggested that gifts were not necessary.
Well, I just can’t stand to go to a wedding without a gift so I thought really really hard. What would Martin want and appreciate, that I might be able to get?
And suddenly I realized it. Martin has been bugging me to help him figure out a way for his Educar charity to distribute Wikipedia (in Spanish) to schools without Internet connections. The problem is that there has not been a simple offline reader on a DVD in Spanish (or, really, most other languages).
There has been a lot of good work to get a cut-down version of Wikipedia onto the OLPC, but this is a different and in many ways not as difficult project. Some people are very interested in working on the concept of offline editing, but for me, that’s secondary for now. What we need is a version of Wikipedia that is downloadable as an ISO, burnable to a DVD (all the articles of Spanish Wikipedia fits on a DVD pretty easily), with a decent (doesn’t have to be perfect) search and display functionality, using all free software so there are no obstacles to further distribution and modification.
So, this blog post is my wedding gift. I’m putting some effort into pulling together the people who are working on this… and finding some new friends to help us get this done!
I’m looking for more volunteers to help with the effort. SJ (a fellow board member at the Wikimedia Foundation) is helping coordinate various people, and we’re launching a new mailing list to get this effort some energy. If you want to help please let me know in the comments, or just email me!
The work we do on this will not just be about Spanish, of course! Many languages will benefit. But I’m starting with Spanish as a gift to my friends Martin and Nina. Mozel tov, Martin and Nina!