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The Humane Reader uses 8-bit technology to bring Wikipedia to developing countries

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July 29, 2010

The Humane Reader is a $20 8-bit computer that contains an offline version of Wikipedia, a...

The Humane Reader is a $20 8-bit computer that contains an offline version of Wikipedia, and displays on a TV

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When you search for just about anything on the Internet, it seems like a Wikipedia entry on that subject is almost always amongst the top ten hits. Despite rumors of dissent within its ranks, the encyclopedic website is one of the largest single repositories of knowledge in the world. So, with that in mind, what do you do if you want to bring a significant portion of the information on the Internet to people who can’t afford net access? You load a searchable offline version of Wikipedia onto a US$20 8-bit computer, that they can watch through their TVs. That’s what computer consultant Braddock Gaskill has done with his Humane Reader, which he hopes will find a place in homes, schools and libraries in developing nations.

The Humane Reader can reportedly hold the equivalent of 5,000 books, and doesn’t require Internet access or a separate computer. It does require a television, which are far more common than Internet connections in the developing world – where, according to Gaskill’s research, only 20 percent of the population has web access. It stores its data on a reloadable SD memory card, which he claims can contain most, if not all of Wikipedia, in a variety of languages. It can be used with a keyboard, although it doesn’t require one.

If produced in quantities of at least 10,000, the Humane Reader will sell for US$20. Gaskill hopes to sell it to non-government organizations, educators, non-profits or other aid agencies.

This isn’t the first time Wikipedia has been made available on a stand-alone computer. The WikiReader is an existing product that does the same thing, and includes its own LCD screen. At $US99, however, it’s not as charity-friendly.

The Humane PC is a slightly fancier version of the Reader, intended for hackers to hone th...

Braddock also offers a slightly fancier, slightly more expensive device called the Humane PC. It’s intended more for those with a little computer knowledge, who want a simple, inexpensive computer that they can tweak to their heart’s content. It displays via a TV, and accepts any PS/2 keyboard. While it’s the same basic machine as the Humane Reader, it sports a few extra features, including a USB microcontroller, an infrared transmitter/receiver, and even an optional aluminum case with powder coat finish.

Via Wired

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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3 Comments

Anyone who want to help people in the third-world, should check this out and get behind this project. All of Wikipedia on a $20 computer that can be hooked up to a TV is an amazing thing because Knowledge and Education is the only thing that has the power to pull people out of poverty.

Dmitriy Zasyatkin
30th July, 2010 @ 07:02 am PDT

Congratulation to Mr. Braddock Gaskill. This tehnology device is nothing less than a powerful force multiplier for rural area population of most developing countries such as Thailand. In Thailand, where, after 15 years after Intenet was made available, the villagers in rural areas still do not have access to Interne, which of course effectily shut them off from knowledge souces such as Wikepedia. This is nothing less than crime to humanity in disguise.

After twenty years of efforts to help rural areas peopole in Thailand, I am truly convinced that these rural villagers are intentionally prevented from due access to Internet's empowered knowledge by successive governments (rich ruling classes of businessmen and politicians, of course, who else?) of Thailand so they can remain poor and cannot do much for making decent living and must spend their lives toiling in the rice fields to nourish the riche ruling classes.

Mr. Braddock Gaskill has done a good Buddhist Karma--the greatest Karma, as a matter of fact:the giving of knowledge-even at a low cost, it is still a giving. May all the good Karma and blessing from Buddha are upon him.

A. Ted Vorachard

Bangkok, Thailand

A. Ted Vorachard
30th July, 2010 @ 07:08 pm PDT

Read "Earthweb" by Marc Stiegler. Part of the backstory of the novel is the "top drop". Cheap palmtop computers with web access were airdropped all over Africa and other "third world" areas to bring information and education to everyone.

Facebook User
30th July, 2010 @ 07:36 pm PDT
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