Thanks for sharing! I was bicycling through New York and stopped in Lake
Placid in 2005 to buy a pair of running shoes (long story, but I still have
them, though they are really worn down now) and in the sports store and
local (Carnegie) library they are still proud of those Olympics and talk
about them as if it was yesterday. They get lots of "Olympics tourists" and
oddly, probably know the names of all the gold-winning athletes in their
heads by now, supported of course by Wikipedia. The big names for me at
that time were Eric Heiden and Piet Kleine, who they knew about, but for
them (as I guess for pretty much everyone else in the world) the big names
in skating were the ice hockey players.

My biggest usage of Wikipedia outside my home today is looking up food
ingredients in stores on mobile. When I was a teenager I had a friend with
an allergy who would get really sick eating foods with nuts in them. It was
remarkably hard to find out what had nuts, and generally you could only
find this out after the fact (bought it, ate it, got sick, took the
packaging to the library, repeat). Even the fast food places couldn't tell
you. Now I have a brother with an allergy and no matter where we are in the
world we can find out what the ingredients mean on the packaging. I think
that is a huge leap forward, even though sometimes I wish I didn't know
what is in some foods, because I dare to eat less and less of what is on
store shelves today.

On Fri, Jan 15, 2016 at 9:42 AM, Yaroslav M. Blanter <pute...@mccme.ru>
wrote:

> On 2016-01-15 00:30, Mardetanha wrote:
>
>> Dear Fellow Wikimedians
>> I would like to congratulate you on Wikipedia's 15th birthday, it was
>> historic moment for all of us, I am glad to let you know we had a
>> celebration in Tehran and we were the first country to celebrate it.
>> you can find images here
>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Wikipedia_15_in_Iran
>> Mardetanha
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>
> I feel like today is time for stories, and I guess this thread is exactly
> the place we can share some stories today. I wish everybody does, since
> this is a nice way to celebrate 15y.
>
> It could be in principle anything remotely Wikimedia related. For example,
> the highest real-life rank of a person I ever blocked on Wikipedia was a
> member of the European parliament (or someone impersonating him). But these
> stories mainly reveal human stupidity, and today we want to talk more on
> the human knowledge. Therefore I am going to spend my daily quota of
> wikimedia-l post for smth else.
>
> I was born in 1967 in the Soviet Union and I am coming from a pre-internet
> generation. I first used internet in 1995 or so, past my PhD degree.
> However, I was always interested in learning things, this is probably why I
> later joined the Wikimedia movement. And I was a pretty advanced-knowledge
> teenager, knowing things my peers would normally not know anything about,
> and I was interested in all kinds of stuff: from exact sciences to history
> and languages and to geographical names. It was really painful to get any
> non-mainstream information. Let me give you a couple of example of the
> problems I encountered.
>
> One was languages. Well, for mainstream foreign languages like English or
> German it was relatively easy to find textbooks and dictionaries. They were
> nothing like modern means of language learning, for example the Teach
> Yourself series, not even speaking of online courses. Other languages were
> more difficult. Some languages were impossible. Well, I grew up in Moscow,
> which had a 10M population, and there were couple of libraries where I
> presumably could find dictionaries of even uncommon languages, but these
> were difficult to get in (normally one had to be 18 yo), they did not let
> the books out of the building, and for a number of practical reasons they
> were not really an option. On the other hand, I was hiking a lot in Central
> Asia, and I was suffering from inability to understand what the local
> Turkic names (in Kazakh and Kyrghyz mainly) mean. Well, you learn soon that
> Ak-Suu means "White river", meaning "aq" is white and "suu" is a river, but
> this is about it). So what I did I searched all available literature at
> home and around including the school library, and came up with a list of
> about 100 words. This was my own, personal, self-made Kyrghyz-Russian
> dictionary. It was weird, since, for example, did not include verbs, and it
> did not help me to speak Kyrghyz in any sense - and I still do not - but it
> was fine to understand the names and to feel kind of like at home. Now we
> have of course professional dictionaries available online. (Kyrghyz is
> still not in a Google translate though).
>
> The second story. For whatever reason, when I was about twelve, I needed
> to have Japanese names. I do not remember why I needed them, but Japanese
> names were notoriously difficult to find. The books I had available only
> mentioned a few individuals. The newspapers rarely wrote about Japan, and
> again only mentioned a few individuals. Then there happened the 1980 Winter
> Olympics in Lake Placid, and Japanese team entered the ice hockey
> tournament. (They ended up last). There was a sports newspaper which I had
> access to, which published the results of the games, and of course ice
> hockey was at the time a great deal in Russia (on that Olympics, the Soviet
> team lost to the US team in the finals, which is still considered to be a
> major fuckup), but apparently they did not publish all the names of the
> players, only last names of those who scored a goal. Japanese rarely
> scored, and there was my tough luck. But them the same newspaper opened a
> hotline - one could phone a certain number, and they would answer any
> question related to the results of the Olympics. I thought this is my
> chance. I was dead afraid calling people I do not know, but I still
> collected a piece of paper, a pen and phoned. A nice female voice answered,
> and I said I would like to have names of the Japanese ice hockey team
> players. The nice voice answered that the team is too big, and their policy
> is not to give long answers. That was the end of it.
>
> You may think by now we are in the free information world, and the players
> of the 1980 Japanese ice hockey team are on Wikipedia. Well, check them.
> The names are there (it takes a while to find the list of names on the
> English Wikipedia - I believe the only article they are listed is [[Japan
> at the 1980 Winter Olympics]]), but only one of them - [[Herb
> Wakabayashi]], who died last year - has an article. Japanese Wikipedia, as
> far as I can tell, is not better. A team of mystery persons.
>
> Happy 15y celebrations.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
>
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