Google Global Impact Challenge

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This week we learned of something called the Google Global Impact Challenge -

This is an initiative that seeks to encourage British non-profits to utilise technology to make the world a better place and transform people's lives for the better.

The programme is open to non-profits in the UK and there are four awards of £500,000 available to the winners, including the idea which receives the largest number of public votes.

The programme was shared on the wikimediauk-l mailing list and generated some discussion so this page is available for good ideas to be recorded and potentially developed.

The timescale for this is short – applications must be completed and submitted by 17 April. However, time is available if we act quickly, develop some ideas and make a recommendation to the Board of Wikimedia UK. This is a good opportunity to scope out some ideas which can then develop into full-scale projects if approved and the bid is successful, so please do get involved – we can make a huge positive difference if we are successful. Please note ideas here and use the talk page for discussion. Thank you. Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 16:42, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Online collaborative college

This idea is developed from some of the current thinking around the WMUK Virtual Learning Environment. For that we are applying Moodle, a standard course management system used in higher education. We are trying, piecemeal, to understand the issues behind making Moodle more collaborative. At present, it is fair to say, the usual assumption is that each course is written by a single person, or very small group.

Online education was very much in the news in 2012, but the ideas coming down from the big schools in the US don't seem to match the Wikimedia way of doing things. I think there is a great entry to be made, in the Google Challenge, that would be an ambitious effort to combine good features of MediaWiki and Moodle (which is particularly strong in hosting quizzes, for example).

It is hard to doubt that upgrading Wikipedia's success as a reference site, to full online education, would have a global impact. So I believe a strong entry could be based around new software development to make the idea of a collaborative system for authoring educational material a reality. The ideas are there: integrating MediaWiki and Moodle features would apparently take a serious project of PHP programming, though. Charles Matthews (talk) 18:49, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

This seems to be reinventing Wikiversity and Wikieducator, (the latter of which has already integrated Moodle and Mediawiki). Perhaps WMUK should engage with these existing projects before putting in a bid of this nature.14:10, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

No, it isn't. It is about having fresh software written, which would be freely licensed. I don't believe WikiEducator has done that for Moodle, and I don't think it is addressing the issues that have come up in WMUK's efforts so far to adapt Moodle. I have found that the "cultures" around MediaWiki and Moodle applications are very different, to the point of mutual incomprehension (and I have been working closely with a Moodle developer). This is not the place to go into full details, but if WMUK are interested in the concept I will explain further, naturally. As far as I know, there is no current way to have an editing community use a site convenient for that purpose and to run courses. Charles Matthews (talk) 16:41, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

I think you have grasped my point: it would make sense to gain a better understanding of what WikiEducator has already done and also what they plan to do if this is to be a serious proposal. As you say, the moodle developer you have been working with doesn't really get Mediawiki. However, as Wikieducator have used moodle and Mediawiki together, it would seem that their experience would be particularly relevant here. Leutha (talk) 23:07, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

On the rough picture that WikiEducator is to the OER Foundation what Meta is to the Wikimedia Foundation, an activist hub, we should meet them coming the other way (from the academic sector). But I don't accept that the proposal is re-invention of the wheel. Charles Matthews (talk) 08:07, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

Make Wikipedia more easily translateable by machine

Making the English, Wikipedia more accessible to non-Native English speakers is a worthy objective and something which we could easily make a big difference to. Currently the main route for non-Native English speakers to access EN wikipedia is via Google translate and similar online translation services. If Google were willing to work with us, we could make an easy and uncontentious difference to that by getting AWB compatible lists of translation anomalies and where practical amending the Wikipedia article. I've been doing this on a small scale for years on the English wikipedia, working my way though easily confused words like staring/starring and cavalry/calvary. It is now far less common to have Wikipedia articles about actors staring in particular movies or calvary armies charging into battle, and as for the throwing of discusses I've abolished an entire Olympic sport. My understanding of translation software is that it works on a probability basis, so if we were to get lists of articles and phrases on EN wikipedia that a particular translation software finds to be ambiguous and can only give a borderline probability to, we should be able to identify a lot of ambiguities and errors on EN wikipedia; Fixing these would benefit all editors but particularly those who depend on translation software.

Taking things to the logical next step, we could introduce a system of hidden templates to resolve words with multiple meanings such as bonnet, bolt, batter, tramp or pants. As well as transforming the quality of machine translation of the pedia, this would also make it easier to offer people a choice as to which version of English they view Wikipedia in, or indeed which version of Portuguese.

Working in the opposite direction would be more contentious due to licensing, in fact I doubt we could help any translation software improve its own code unless they had a compatible license. I'd also be loathe to see us work with one set of machine translation software in a way that gave them an advantage over their competitors WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:49, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

While this idea has a certain amount of appeal, I feel it moves away from Wikipedia as a collaborative medium, in that non-English speakers would be reduced to consumers of the material on the English Wikipedia, but without a real way of editing. Also it would then marginalise the other non-English Wikipedias and further exaggerating the Anglophone bias on the internet.Leutha (talk) 23:01, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't need to be (and in my opinion shouldn't be) restricted to the English Wikipedia. Adding translation hints would be useful to all language Wikipedias, and facilitate translation of any language Wikipedia to any other language. Non-English speakers may want to get English translations of enwp articles, but English (or other language) speakers also often want to read non-English Wikipedia articles in translation, so this idea does not exaggerate the Anglophone bias. BabelStone (talk) 09:20, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
OK I've broadened this to all Wikipedias. There is a logical corollary that if we did get to perfect or near perfect translation then the different Wikipedias would actually be competing with each other, and either the project would consolidate or split into different versions based around core language, or possibly around something else such as notability threshold or openness. However that is a long way off, the more practical impact on the next five years would be much better access to information for a substantial proportion of our readership. WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:52, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
As someone who uses GoogleTranslate sometimes as a foundation for translating articles, I could see where it might be useful, although from my experience its not simlar words that confuses GoogleTranslate, but when a word in the original language has multiple meanings (e.g. poles/Poles). There are also a lot of other issues as well with some language pairings working much better than others. Sadly a lot of organizations in Wales use machine translation for signage and our public space is littered with mis-tranlations.--Rhyswynne (talk) 08:59, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
I think this is an interesting idea which would might mean we would have an Urtext constructed around Linguistic universals and a Universal grammar. Even though there has not been time to submit the idea for this funding stream. If this could be approached from a peer-to-peer perspective, I think it would be very interesting i.e. even if the universal aspects mentioned above aren't realised/realisable, a practical attempt to move in that direction might have some interesting results.Leutha (talk) 12:21, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia on Google Glass

This project would enable children and young people to have simplified Wikipedian articles on Listed Buildings read out / enacted by an animated character using Augmented Reality. I used to create such characters for CDROMs 12 years ago, and it's a fab way of teaching boring information. It would be a natural transition for existing content to walk out of the computer and into the hurly-burly of real life!

We can create historic characters using Poser etc which can then be geotagged outside a historic building. We could even show them what's inside! A short version / simplified version of a Wikipedia article would then be heard spoken by that character using an actor's voice, with voice commands for selection.

For example, we have a world famous short walk around Monmouth, South Wales, where the content on Wikipedia already exist. Outside each of the listed buildings we would create a 3D historical person from that era. Users (children, teenagers and adults) could then interact with that character and choose their level of knowledge. This makes boring information sexy, fun and relevant.

Welsh and the English language would be used in the pilot, and the other 279 minority languages would follow.

The second part of this trial would be done on a different trail, I suggest St Fagans (Sain Ffagan) open air museum in Cardiff, or maybe Conwy Castle, where the character would move as the user moves from one room to another, this time using push / proximity technology. Google Glass opens up a new virtual world but the technology would also work (to some extent) on mobile phones.

And we will breath life into the Welsh language and change the way history will be taught - out in the fields and on the pavements. This could have global impact sans frontiers.

Can we do this? Do we want to do this? PS It's a bit late - 24 hours, but where there's a will... -- Llywelyn2000 (talk) 16:42, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

  1. Agree. I'm also not familiar with the technology, but I can help with the historic characters. Deb (talk) 07:33, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
  2. A bit tight for time and while I'm also unfamiliar with the technological side, the content in both the proposed trial langauges are already available, and I bet the relvant bodies (National Museums of Wales and CADW) wouldn't take too much persuading.-- 08:39, 17 April 2013 (UTC)