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How to download Wikipedia to your phone
Building an offline reference library on your phone, part 2: Wikipedia and other references
Imagine the grid goes down for some reason - an EMP, winter blackouts, war, cyber attacks. Maybe it comes back up in a few days. Maybe, as in the case of an EMP, it never comes back up.
Wouldn’t it be handy if you had access to the world’s biggest encyclopedia, right on your phone? And yes - your phone would probably survive certain types of EMPs, such as solar CMEs.
I know Wikipedia gets a bad rap. The whole platform is horribly politicized. Even Wikipedia’s founder often speaks out against the corruption and bias inherent in it. But Wikipedia has millions of articles, and the politicized garbage is largely limited to articles on politics, economics, and history. A lot of the other stuff, from facts about places and geographical locations, medication dosages and side effects, animal behaviors (which would come in handy when hunting!), scientific and engineering knowledge, etc. is all still incredibly useful.
And unfortunately, the alternatives like Encyclopedia Britannica, available as an app - are of appallingly low quality (look at the reviews!), and just as full of bias as Wikipedia.
So with all of its flaws, Wikipedia is probably the best encyclopedia we can get a hold of, and - the entire download is free!
You’ll need to download the Kiwix app, which is available on both iPhone and Android. You’ll also need about 100gb of free space if you want to download the entire English language Wikipedia. They do have smaller downloads, such as the top 50,000 articles, or articles within certain categories, if you’re short on space.
But Kiwix has much more than just downloads of Wikipedia. They have the entire Khan Academy curriculum, for instance. Or hundreds of TED talks.
My favorite? Stack Exchange backups! For instance, you can download the Home Improvement and Gardening Stack Exchanges and get access to years of questions and answers on every topic and issue conceivable. Archived right there offline on your phone!
Just imagine needing to know how to fix something in your house after a disaster has knocked out the grid and nobody is there to help.
For those who don’t have the space on their phones, you can also download the Kiwix desktop app, and download all of this knowledge to your computer. Hard drives are cheaper than ever, so go ahead and get a hard drive, download all these resources to it, and throw it in a faraday cage (together with a cheap laptop, if you can spare it!).
It’s hard to imagine what not being able to get an answer to a question would feel, with the internet having been at our fingertips for almost three decades. But if or when the internet goes down for good, the world will become a much, much darker place, with a lot more unanswered questions. And with most encyclopedias being out of print, and people no longer valuing hard copies as much as they used to, people’s access to knowledge would diminish dramatically.
Of course, I suggest people purchase hard copies of books too, as many reference and other useful books as you can get your hands on - but books are expensive and take up significant amounts of space. Downloading Wikipedia and other references to your phone or desktop is a good alternative that’s cheap and easy to do.