This is a well-rounded article.  Thanks for posting, Tinu.

Yours sincerely,

Anirudh Bhati

+855 975 529 803
Skype: anirudhsbh

On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 9:55 AM, CherianTinu Abraham

> *The Economic Times : "Oral citations to be part of wikipedia entries"*
> *When you set out to make the entire global knowledge base freely
> accessible , can you leave out subjects that find very little mention in
> print? The question posed by Bangalore based researcher Achal Prabhala,
> has kicked off a debate among Wikipedia editors, the volunteers behind
> world's largest encyclopedia . The collaborative online encyclopedia ,
> supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, has over 19 million
> articles written by about 90,000 editors across the world. Achal began
> working on the problem in January 2011 and carried out a project called the
> Oral Citations to find ways to increase local language entries into
> Wikipedia . At the crux of the problem is the lack of printed material in
> local languages and for topics related to indigenous culture. Editors find
> it difficult to add articles because of the lack of citable material. *
> *
> *
> *Right now, the online encyclopedia relies heavily on published material
> like newspapers , journals and magazines for citations . However, when it
> comes to vernaculars , there is very little published material available and
> editors often find a huge amount of knowledge being left out defeating the
> entire objective of Wikipedia. Take for instance, Dabba Kali, a traditional
> game played in North Kerala is finds very little or almost no reference in
> citable sources. "But that's also an important part of culture," says Achal.
> "The sum of human knowledge is far greater than the sum of printed knowledge
> ," he argues. Of late, the Wikimedia foundation has been trying to make its
> projects more global. While this is relatively easy in developed countries
> with better infrastructure which generate a lot of citable material, the
> problem in developing and underdeveloped countries are acute. *
> *
> *
> *" Germany, whose entire population is a fraction of India's online
> population has a massive footprint on Wikipedia. While a country like India
> is behind. Why is that?" asks Achal. "Because there is a lot more published
> material which can be used for citations out there... maybe, because the
> people who made the project largely were from the Anglo European or Japanese
> world, there has been a conflation of the sum of human knowledge and sum of
> printed knowledge," says Achal who mainly works on intellectual property
> issues related to medicine. With Shiju Alex, a Malayalam Wikipedian ,
> Mayur, one of the top 20 global contributors to the encyclopedia and Mohau
> Monaledi, a software developer from South Africa, Achal set out to find
> how easy it is to create original articles that discuss things that have not
> been discussed before and are particular to a linguistic culture. "We found
> that the citation rules are a huge problem. What do you do when the largest
> university library in South Africa has only 80 books in Sepedi, a South
> African language spoken by five million people ? Of that, most are bibles
> and dictionaries and fiction and poetry which is not good for citations," he
> says. The situation is no different for Malayalam or Hindi. *
> *
> *
> *In Kannur, the number of Malayalam books in the varsity library is not
> more than 3,000. "A lot of that is also translation which don't contain
> original Malayalam knowledge which don't deal with topics intrinsic to
> Kerala," he said. He also points out a relatively newer problem: the rules
> for citations were made a few years ago when social media was not big and
> the Internet was different. While the Internet culture has changed, to
> become a significant part of people's lives, the idea is to broaden the base
> of citation "to reflect peoples lives more realistically ." So will this
> change the way Wikipedia works? "This is a discussion within a community and
> the desire is to take it to its logical conclusion. Now we want to know what
> we can do around citations as a whole and depending on the inputs make it
> more concrete," he said. The project, however, has not been without its
> share of critics within the volunteer community. One of the longest running
> thread, in the recent history of the foundations public mailing list,
> debates the project with scathing criticism, supporting arguments and
> balanced suggestions . *
> *
> *
> *For instance, Ziko van Dijk, a Wikimedian from Netherlands, writes: "So,
> when someone believes that those "accessible printed sources" are "biased" ,
> he comes up with the video of his grand uncle telling the truth? I don't
> think that it fits into the scope of Wikimedia. It certainly does not fit
> into the scope of Wikipedia." Achal counters: "First, this is an experiment
> - an experiment which those of us working on it, and others around us,
> thought might lead to interesting result ... the project is not on "oral
> history" - it's on using oral sources as citations." Indian Wikipedians have
> not been sparing either. For the new generation which is growing up on the
> internet, the whole world of referencing and authority is online instead of
> through print and very little of that is allowed on Wikipedia, they counter.
> Criticsim of the project comes from local Wikipedians too. A Wikipedia
> editor told ET: "I'm a bit sceptical about the project. One of our core
> principles is we don't do original research. But with oral citations, we
> will begin to do original citations. Wikipedia is a tertiary source and not
> a primary source. This will be a breach. Also, oral citations are more
> unreliable than printed sources." He, however, concedes that the area of
> oral citations is relatively unexplored and has potential for study.
> "Perhaps it is time to have a conversation around how you can include these
> sources ?" says Achal. The debate still goes on.*
> Regards
> Tinu Cherian
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