*The Hindu : "World heritage site tag sought for Wikipedia"*

*If you thought that a world heritage site is something ancient and should
have a physical form, wikipedians think otherwise. They are out to seek a
world heritage site tag to their website.*
*An on-going petition, called “Wikipedia for World Heritage,” has garnered
the support of 12,600 people. It aims at getting Wikipedia, the free online
encyclopaedia in over 270 languages, tagged as a potential “World Heritage
Site” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (UNESCO). The petition is based on the view that Wikipedia is
“predestined to become the first ever digital World Heritage Site as it is a
pioneer project of the digital age, carrying the ancient idea of common and
free knowledge into the third millennium.”*
*“It is a brilliant idea. Wikipedia is an Internet property that deserves
nomination [to the heritage list],” says Arun Ramarathnam, Executive
Committee member, Wikimedia India chapter.*
*While he said it was time traditional definitions of heritage as buildings
and monuments evolve to include digital resources, Cherian Tinu Abraham,
Wikipedia administrator, who thought the site “represents a masterpiece of
human creative genius” (a UNESCO criterion), says, “I am excited about the
idea, it is unprecedented.” The site provides free access to knowledge to
everyone, enabling cooperation beyond national and cultural barriers. “Can
the world think of a life without Wikipedia? It is a truly global heritage
project recording human history from every corner of the world,” he says.*
*Says Harinath Pudipeddi, a software professional: “Definitely, Wikipedia
can claim a place. But it will take a little time to get there.”*
*One supporter (known as “FT2” on the site) said that Wikipedia should be
included in the heritage list because it notes and stores, historical images
and texts on culture, knowledge, and languages. The documentation is
especially significant for India, he said. Languages and cultures, and, with
them, our knowledge of peoples, their history and cultural perspectives, are
vanishing at a frightening speed. “In 2009, UNESCO reported almost 200
Indian languages were going silent. With them die their heritage and culture
— and a part of the soul of India,” says FT2.*
*That process is not limited to India. “It's a worldwide cultural heritage
phenomenon,” he says. Ancient materials degrade and some are lost forever
like “Bo,” one of the world's old languages, which went extinct in the
Andaman Islands in 2010, when its last speaker died. Now, efforts are on to
at least document the dying “Nuumte Oote” language in Mexico.*
*Jimmy Wales, Co-founder, Wikipedia, says: “Wikipedia is now a part of world
culture in a way that no one could have anticipated several years ago. It is
a voluntary humanitarian effort pursued as a charitable project to bring
free knowledge to everyone. It is now a part of our shared heritage as human
*“UNESCO has also recognised abstract ideas such as flamenco dancing and
French cuisine. So we think it is time to think broadly about the meaning of
culture and how we can support culture broadly in the digital age. A
recognition of Wikipedia would signal that it is time to take digital
culture seriously.”*

Tinu Cherian
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