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Labor Day Weekend Reads by Stephen Harrison
VideoWiki Challenges Wikipedia’s Traditional Text Focus
When Pratik Shetty presented at this month’s global Wikimania conference in Stockholm, he told the story of Venky, the security guard at his apartment building in Mumbai, India. Shetty had noticed some mosquitoes in standing water nearby his building and alerted Venky that the insects could cause the tropical disease dengue fever. Venky responded that he could treat dengue by himself, without going to a doctor, and proudly showed Shetty a Hindi YouTube video that described five at-home remedies. Shetty told him that Wikipedia was a much more reliable source than YouTube and described how the information contained in the Wikipedia entry was supported by several third-party medical sources. To this, Venky replied, “Pratik, that’s all well and good, but I cannot read your Wikipedia.”
That sort of interaction is why he and co-creator Ian Furst launched a project called VideoWiki. At Wikimania, Shetty and Furst, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon based in Canada, made the case that it was high time Wikipedia dedicated more energy to video. Even in 2019, an estimated 750 million people around the world are illiterate, according to UNESCO. By limiting its encyclopedia to text and a few photographs, Wikipedia was failing to reach this large audience. The VideoWiki project provides web-based software for the collaborative creation, editing, and distribution of multimedia content on wikis. “Knowledge sharing can save lives,” Furst said. “And video is the only way in which much of the developing world can access that information.”
>> Continue reading my latest article for Slate
Other recent work
Meet Émna Mizouni, the 2019 Wikimedian of the Year. Her principal project is Arabic Wikipedia.
Welsh Wikipedia Gives Me Hope. This piece is a personal fave.
Wishing you a happy Labor/Labour Day weekend!