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May 30, 2013

Wikimedia Needs You to Be Its Eyes

By Peter B. Counter, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Wikipedia and its family of Wikimedia Foundation-owned sites like Wikibooks and Wikimedia Commons have a lot of friends and they are going to be calling in some favors. It was recently reported that Wikimedia sites attract views from over 500 million unique users every month, with dramatically growing audiences in India and Brazil. A large piece of that activity pie belongs to mobile queries, and this is definitely something the online resource company is going to bank on.

Wikimedia is leveraging the GeoData extension it announced in January for MediaWiki to facilitate the launch of the new Nearby page on Wikipedia. Essentially allowing the geographical information to be abstracted from a piece of media for easier access and therefore faster querying time, the GeoData solution is going to power the Nearby page as it cross references your actual location with the articles in Wikipedia that contain items of local interest, allowing relevant content to surface when you most need it.

This is a great tool for visitors to new places who want easier access to information relevant to wherever they might be, but there is also an ulterior motive on behalf of Wikimedia: like a renegade Batman in the Gotham City that is our world, the foundation aims to turn your smartphone into visual data, not to catch a super villain like In The Dark Knight, but to further supplement articles with up-to-date images for the rest of the world to use.

Ideally, a user will open Wikipedia on her mobile device, find the Nearby page, see that the article on the coffee shop she is around the corner from needs a picture, and fills that informational hole. With the push of a button on the Nearby page requesting image data, the user can become a field reporter for the online encyclopedia.

This fits right in to what Wikimedia has been projecting as its recent mission: to become the go-to solution to your informational needs wherever you are. Wikivoyage, launched earlier this year, saw the encyclopedia rise to its travel reference competition and now that the Nearby page will be making it easier to access additional relevant info there are even more reasons to travel with Wiki.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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