No, it’s not democracy on wheels… Mobile Asia Congress, or MAC, is the top annual fiesta for the GSM Association in (you guessed it) Asia. GSMA is a global trade group representing more than 750 mobile operators across 218 countries and territories-more than 86% of the world’s mobile phone connections.
I was honored to be invited to speak at a panel at MAC last month in Macau, China. You might be asking yourself why a busy guy like me would sit on a plane for 15 hours, surrounded by screaming babies, to fly half way around the world to talk to executives of the mobile communications industry. Well, it wasn’t for the frequent flier miles (though those were nice too). The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to spreading knowledge to more people in more ways. If you look at how people are connecting with information these days, mobile devices are becoming more and more important. In developing countries, a lack of infrastructure and internet access means mobile devices are sometimes the only way that people can access information online.
My panel was on Monetising the assets of mobile for a new Internet – location, charging and demographics. That may sound strange, seeing as we don’t charge anyone to use or edit Wikipedia or any of our other projects. However, all the terrific content on Wikipedia can add a lot of value to the mobile experience.
* Imagine GPS-powered software automatically offering up Wikipedia content based on your trip to London or Tokyo
* Or photo-recognition software providing the Wikipedia article based on your mobile-phone picture at the Golden Gate Bridge.
We’re exploring partnerships with prominent mobile carriers, device makers, application developers, etc., to make these kinds of dynamic experiences a reality. It’s all about giving people the most relevant knowledge, whenever and wherever they need it.
While I was in Asia, I also had the opportunity to visit dedicated Wikipedians in Hong Kong, Macau and Japan. We already have a chapter in Hong Kong, and Macau is on it’s way to forming one. The Japanese Wikipedians are thinking about starting up a chapter and I was able to help them out with some Dos and Dont’s (such as DO buy the Head of Business Development a round of Kirin; DON’T stop at one round). We’re excited to expand the Wikipedia presence in Asia, where it’s growing faster than monkeyweed on Miracle Grow (also known as Japanese knotweed).
It was a lot of fun to meet all the smart, committed people working to make Wikipedia bigger and better. Wikipedia is currently accessible by people in mainland China and it growing at a rapid rate due to all the Chinese speaking contributors from every corner of the world. Japanese Wikipedia is our sixth-biggest language, with more than 540,000 articles. I want to thank all the Wikipedians that took the time to meet with me: Jerry (Hong Kong); Agostinho and Albert (Macau); and, Shun, Kotaro, Kazuhiro, and Tomoaki (Japan).
Also, a special thanks to Simone Craig, Lisa West, Andy McGuire, and everyone at GSMA for making me part of their great event.
Kul Wadhwa, Business Development