Critical issues presentations/Wikipedia as a Driver of Free Knowledge Ecosystem in Developing Countries

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Submission no. 154
Title of the submission

Wikipedia as a Driver of Free Knowledge Ecosystem in Developing Countries

Author of the submission
  • Sibi Kanagaraj
Country of origin



Outreach, Projects, Research

  • Free Knowledge
  • Ecosystem
  • Open Access
  • Free Software
  • Developing Countries

Free Knowledge is of importance in any developing country. Free here refers to freedom. And for free knowledge to sustain/thrive/exist, it requires an ecosystem supported by pillars such as open data, open access, free software, etc. An ecosystem of free knowledge depends on various factors. In a developing country, the dynamics of such an ecosystem is much different from that of a developed country. The internet penetration itself is heavily dependant on socio-economic conditions, political situation which influence the digital divide. This is in contrast to a developed country where it is difficult to comprehend the issue of lack of bandwidth availibility. Wikipedia, with its wide spread presence across the globe, can stimulate this ecosystem in developing countries.Wikipedia is more than just an online encyclopedia. It is a fairly successful model of knowledge freedom championing free access for fifteen years now. Wikipedia has grown strong from an encyclopedia to a group of projects dedicated to keeping knowledge, in various forms, free and accessible. Its interwovenness with Free Software and Open Access, stands to prove it's ability to drive an ecosystem of knowledge freedom/free knowledge. This is evident from content on Wikipedia itself. An article contains illustrations, maps, photographs, govt data etc that make it rich. This has been possible thanks to entities like Creative Commons (which provides Wikipedia a firm legal ground to stand on), Open Maps , Open Data (appropriately licensed by authorised bodies), free software tools such as gimp and inkscape (used to create illustrations). Such seamless collaboration is key to sustenance in an ecosystem. Another notable aspect is the experience that WIkipedia has in developing countries. Unlike the English Wikipedia for which many online references and clear cut policies of usage is present , the associated wikipedia of developing countries face issues of proper referencing which forms the basis of verifiability

criteria .A case in point can be the Tamil Wikipedia where around 3449 pages dont have any references and near about 1,676 pages requires specific citation .While this might be quantitatively a lesser number as compared to English Wikipedia , the qualitative aspect has to be taken into account .Be it this or that or this or that, all these lessons enrich Wikipedia in it's capability to drive an ecosystem of Free Knowledge in developing countries.


Not accepted