The Longest Now

XO Wikireader : compressed joy
Monday June 02nd 2008, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,international,poetic justice

Chris Ball, a Mad bio-savvy artisan, and Wade Brainerd all spent part of the past two weeks getting a disk-conserving wikireader onto the XO that supports browsing and simple searching over a 100-fold compressed set of articles.
The result :

  • a 100M activity containing most of the Spanish Wikipedia, with illustrations, math fontification, and templates
  • scripts that support generating a new version from the latest articles, from heuristics defining the most popular titles, with only a few hours of work

There is also a short blacklist of pages and images that need improvement which will change over time.  A whitelist of unpopular but crucial pages will surely build up, and the process will find a way to learn from the subject-specific wikireader efforts to produce smaller uncompressed collections.  The same idea and scripts can provide a roughly Britannica-sized collection for every major language; or a multilingual cover of the 200 smallest languages; expect an English one soon for comparison.
While this reader (which has to unzip each page as it is requested) is slower than browsing html, it is still a pleasure to use. The real lack, shared with other readers to date, is that comments and editing don’t yet work…

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