Happy Birthday, Wikipedia! Tomorrow, Saturday, January 15, Wikipedia will turn 10 years old. Earlier this week, founder Jimmy Wales spoke to NPR reflecting on the current state of Wikipedia after its first 10 years. Take a listen (click on Wikipedia icon below to launch audio)
Wales states that the dream of Wikipedia is to offer a free encyclopedia for every person in the world in their own language. More work is required to meet that dream. A big priority for Wikipedia right now is translating much more content into more languages, particularly languages in the developing world. On that note, an important step and milestone occurred in Thailand last week. As documented on the blog Global Watchtower, On January 7, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced the launch of the complete English-language Wikipedia in Thai. Presented as a gift to the children of Thailand, Asia Online, the company driving the project, will have completed the translation of 3.5 million Wikipedia articles into Thai within the first week. This type of translation is no trivial task, it involves first using machine translation technology on 50 quad core servers, then proofreading of translators employed by Asia Online, and then crowdsourcing suggestions from the online users of Thai speakers. An ambitious project, it’s the 2nd largest translation ongoing translation project in the world!
Why does this matter? Access to information creates the conditions and possibly drives economic prosperity. As Kirti Vashee writes, in some parts of the world localization is all about reducing information poverty and improving the human condition. Congratulations to Wikipedia and I look forward to seeing the entire web translated and available to the entire world in their local language.