Entries from Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia written and edited by Internet users, may soon be available in print for readers in the developing world, founder Jimmy Wales said on Monday.
He said content from the Web site may also be burned onto CDs and DVDs so computer users in places like Africa, who lack access to high-speed Internet, could consult parts of the reference work offline.
Wales also described as incorrect reports, one of them from Reuters, that certain pages of the Wikipedia could be subject to tightened controls or “frozen” for good to prevent vandals and pranksters from tampering with them.
“We are talking to several agents and publishers about what they would be interested in,” Wales said of the book project.
He cited health, football and histories of World War Two or rock ‘n’ roll as examples of how entries could be grouped into subjects.
“I have always liked the idea of going to print because a big part of what we are about is to disseminate knowledge throughout the world and not just to people who have broadband,” Wales said by telephone from St. Petersburg, Florida.
Issues like funding, distribution and topics were still being discussed but a first printed work could be ready from mid-2006, he added.
Wales, a 39-year-old former options trader, set up Wikipedia in 2001. The site operates through the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that relies on donations to pursue its goal of spreading knowledge for free.
The reference work uses “Wiki” software, which gives anyone with access to the Internet the opportunity to edit any page.
By Paul Holmes