The real Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Karoliina Salminen talks about WikiPedia and Nokia 770 being the real Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

However, Douglas Adams didn’t probably have in mind what would be really possible today, a joke that was written back then is now reality. What is 770 + Internet + Wikipedia? Quite much same as Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy. An electronic device that can answer to all your questions anywhere anytime. It is not Sci-Fi anylonger, but Nokia 770 Internet Tablet…

I fully agree that there is the potential. I’ve been long thinking about something like this, but I still feel that an offline version would be important. You might need information about places when traveling, or answers to some question that popped in a conversation. And Internet connection might just not be available.

If the full WikiPedia would take too much storage space, the device could possibly use a text-only version. And even then the contents downloaded for offline usage could be optimized based on some smart categorization and for example based on the user’s current location that could be gotten through sources like a Bluetooth GPS receiver, or a network’s Plazes information.

Maybe something like the FBReader e-book reader, as suggested by Internet Tablet Users could work together with an RSS-like system to update content from WikiPedia to the tablet.

The user interface would be quite obvious: text saying Don’t Panic in big, friendly letters, a search box, and list of probable pages of interest based on location.

Now what is especially cool about the N770 and WikiPedia combination is that there is no central authority to convince to be able to build this. WikiPedia is open content, and Nokia 770’s platform is fully open, meaning that anybody can just sit down and implement this.

Of course, in projects like this is important to remember that WikiPedia is an encyclopedia, not the full sum of human knowledge:

But Jimmy Wales reminded me that Wikipedia is meant to be an encyclopedia, not a library replacement. It should be the first source of information, not the last. It should be a site for information exploration, not the definitive source of facts.

Maybe this “Hitchhiker’s Guide” could be the killer app 770 needs?

Updated 2005-12-20: Some other posts on the same subject:

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