Saturday, January 23, 2010


In working in various developing countries one of the most difficult parts has been the mediocre Internet access (hey, we all have our "must haves"). Bandwidth is a precious and often expensive commodity in the countries (a megabit connection in Kenya when i was there in 2006 was $500+/month). With these restrictions access to what the west would consider a bandwidth simple site such as Wikipedia is difficult at best. Another thing i have noticed is the lack of written material in native languages, i was noticing at Nangahar university in Jalalabad Afghanistan they have practically no written material and they are getting donations of *English* material (not particularly useful for the majority of the staff and students i am sure). Well Wikipedia is growing and while the entries in languages other than English are minuscule they are there, and something like Farsi (which is widely spoken in Afghanistan) has a few thousand articles (its a start).

The above thoughts lead me to a very very very nifty but simple peice of software, Okawix. It is a program that has an extraordinarily simple interface and "lets you download the whole content of Wikipedia, with or without images, so that you can browse it offline: Okawix is available in 253 languages and includes sister projects of the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikisource, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks). Okawix is a free software available under GPL licence; sources are available on the SourceForge project. It's featuring the search engine , developed by Linterweb."

A program like this and an old computer could really go a long way towards helping mitigate some of the disadvantages of low bandwidth.