WikiReader Brings Wikipedia Anywhere

Device promises to settle bar disputes worldwide

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Openmoko
    It's just the thing for recounting California's favorite cannibals!

    The WikiReader is a $99 electronic device that lets you access an archived copy of Wikipedia whenever, and wherever, you like.

    Of course, you can also do that on almost any smartphone with a Web browser through the Wikipedia mobile site, and get up-to-date, occasionally reliable information.

    But OpenMoko, the Taiwan-based developers of the WikiReader, wanted the device to be cheaper and more accessible so that it might catch on among the majority of people who don't have regular access to the Internet or even reliable electricity.

    So it's designed with a low-power screen and processor, and will work for months or even a year with just two batteries. It has a reflective screen like that of the Kindle, matched with a simple touch-screen interface like that of the iPhone.

    It's being marketed as a great resource for school-aged children, and the site touts that it's an easy way to keep them away from the "adult-oriented content" -- like Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales's racy instant messages.

    However, it may prove a little too simple -- the last thing we need in the developed world is another single-purpose device in our messenger bags, and the developing world might have a hard time justifying $99 to buy this instead of tending to something a little lower on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

    But here's a thought: Why doesn't the San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, spend less money on administrative salaries and more on subsidizing devices like the WikiReader?

    Jackson West would actually buy this if you could put anything besides Wikipedia on it.