WIKIWALLAHS

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Nov 2 2010, 05:14am hrs
The online encyclopedia seeks its office outside the US. It looks to India, naturally

Quibbling over exact numbers aside and worrying over insufficient Internet penetration apart, we have always known that Indians can pack quite a punch when they do get online. In a BBC online poll, they beat off the likes of Cary Grant to get Amitabh Bachchan voted the greatest star of the millennium! That was in 2000. Wikipedia took off next year. It, too, has proved to be quite a star, having picked up more than 91,000 active contributors working across more than 270 languages since then. To say that it is the largest encyclopedia in history doesnt come close to capturing the user-generated knowledge revolution Wikipedia has pulled off, with even the Indian courts (controversially) looking to it for making informed judgements.

The dynamic and animated character of the Indian online community is obviously one factor behind Wikipedia looking to India for setting up its first office outside the home US market. But founder Jimmy Wales has been quoted on an interesting, additional one: Right now, the English Wikipedia is less than 20% of the total content. I expect that to fall to 10% in less than two years. Factor in all the policy efforts to get rural India on the broadband Internet bandwagon, and you see why the bhasha magic is seducing Wales.