The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

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Speakeasy
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The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby Speakeasy » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:36 pm

PREAMBLE

I am submitting this report on “WiderNet” in two parts. The first part explains “where I’m coming from” and the precautions that I took to avoid “setting off alarms” during my first contact with this organisation. You can skip this lengthy section, if you wish, and move directly the second part where the nut of the matter is presented. However, in doing so, you will deprive yourselves of an opportunity to discover just how bizarre I really am!

BACKGROUND

A few weeks ago, during my communications with Ms. Magdalen Livesey, President, Cortina Learning International, Inc., concerning the proposal to host the Cortina language courses on the FSI-Yojik website, she forwarded a portion of an Email chain to me wherein the organisation “WiderNet” had submitted a similar request. I made brief mention of this separate project in one of my posts under the “Cortina Method Audio” discussion thread. WiderNet was unknown to me at that time; however, given their coincidental request for permission to publish the Cortina language courses, it seemed to me that this organisation might have a mission touching on the diffusion of educational materials and, more particularly, the diffusion of language-learning materials. So then, I resolved to learn more about them and to report back to the members of this forum.

As this was to be my first contact with WiderNet and as I was seeking to build a bridge between their organisation and the community of language-learning enthusiasts, in my introductory Email, I presented a very brief history of the How-To-Learn-Any-Language forum, the A Language Learners’ Forum, the project that lead to the launching of the FSI-Language-Courses website and the hosting of the U.S. Government’s public domain FSI, DLI, and Peace Corps language materials thereon, the subsequent expansion to include the Cortina language course materials, and a current project that might result in the hosting of other materials that are presently under copyright. I underscored that contributors to the forums are private citizens who share an interest in language learning and who seek to share their knowledge and experiences. I provided links to the aforementioned websites.

As pirates, fraudsters and all manner of predators are known to circulate rather deftly throughout the cyberspace, I made special mention of the fact that the administrator of the FSI-Yojik website and the private citizens who submit materials for hosting thereon do not seek to profit from their contributions nor do they seek to control the materials. Rather, their sole interest is in the preservation of, and free access to, legacy language-learning materials that are either in the public domain or for which permission to host the materials has been granted by the holders of the copyrights.

In summation, I submitted a polite request for information as to whether WiderNet was a public or a private institution, the organisation’s mission, their goals, their project concerning the Cortina materials, any similar projects, their website, whether or not it might have a “Contact Us” portal, et cetera. Out of concern for their privacy, I offered to refrain from publishing the names of any of the organisation’s employees or representatives, or their Email addresses, without having received specific prior permission to do so. I advised that I would be submitting a report on the "A Language Learners’ Forum".

I have exchanged a couple of lengthy Emails with a representative of WiderNet and offer the following summary. Comments and/or corrections would be greatly appreciated. Also, please note that the WiderNet representative with whom I communicated would be pleased to answer your questions should you have any; details are below.

WIDERNET

Contact for Information
The WiderNet website does not yet have a “Contact Us” portal. In the interim, Ms. Laura Ashcraft, MSIS, Digital Librarian at the WiderNet Project, has kindly offered to respond to your questions concerning WiderNet and/or the eGranary Digital Library. Her Email address is as follows: Laura Ashcraft <lashcraft@widernet.org>

WiderNet: Mission, Goals, Projects, et cetera
In composing this report, I have chosen to copy/paste some of the text, either with or without slight modifications, from my Email exchanges with Ms. Laura Ashcraft and from the WiderNet website... "The WiderNet Project is dedicated to improving digital education and communications for all communities and individuals around the world. It is a non-profit organization affiliated with WiderNet@UNC at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. WiderNet provides resources, coaching, training, computers and educational materials to schools, clinics, libraries and homes in underserved areas of the world." The answers to the questions that I posed as to the organisation’s mission, and to many that I did not pose, can be found on the organisation’s website; here is the LINK: http://www.widernet.org/.

The eGranary Digital Library
"The eGranary Digital Library -- 'The Internet in a Box' -- is an off-line information store that provides instant access to over 32 million digital resources for those lacking adequate Internet access. Through a process of copying web sites (with permission) and putting them on internal networks at partner institutions in developing countries, this digital library delivers instant access to a wide variety of educational resources including video, audio, books, journals, and websites. A single eGranary, connected to a wired or wireless local area network (LAN), can serve thousands of patrons. The eGranary comes in three form factors: a full-sized eGranary server optimized for rugged conditions; a 12-volt server than can be run on battery; and a stand-alone USB drive that turns any Windows computer into a server." Ms. Ashcraft added: “The eGranary is basically a hard drive (sometimes server) that acts like an intranet for communities that have little to no Internet access” and provided the following LINK to the eGranary website: https://www.widernet.org/eGranary/about The webpage contains an interactive Google map of the eGranary Digital Libraries around the world.

Portals: Information/Education/Language/Other
Quote from Ms. Ashcraft: “My job as a librarian for this organization is to find new educational content to put in our eGranary portals. We have several educational portals (Education Essentials, Life Skills) and currently I am building a Children’s Educational portal aimed at grade and middle school levels. When I find a website that I think is appropriate for our project, I contact the website author and ask them if they would like to participate in our project in getting high quality educational content to communities that normally would not be able to access it due to their lack of Internet access. When they grant permission (we send a letter that both introduces our mission and acts like a contract), we scrape the site as it appears on the Internet (we do not modify the websites at all, as in we do not take any credit for any of the material, all copyrights are attributed to the authors) … We do not have a formal Language portal as yet, it is intertwined with our portal called Education Essentials Portal (can be seen here: http://www.widernet.org/portals/index.php?PortalID=82). With the acquisition of Mr. Streit’s website fsi-languages.yojik.eu, as well as Live Lingua, we can provide more resources to our users. As you see in our website describing the eGranary, we provide a very large range of resources to our users (spanning from medical portals to ICT training).” Hmm, this seems worth pursuing!!!

The Cortina Languages Project
Please refer to the section “FSI-Yojik”, below.

FSI-Yojik and Live Lingua websites (acquisition?)
Quote from Ms. Ashcraft: “I was aware of the FSI website, and when I went to check up on that site, I saw that a new author had taken the material and a made a great website for it (https://fsi-languages.yojik.eu/). So I contacted them and we successfully negotiated the WiderNet Project’s acquisition of this site for our users. In that site was Cortina’s Language courses (then it was only Japanese and Russian). So I contacted Cortina to see if we could also acquire this material (if they said no, then we would have scraped the site but excluded this material in our scrape and then made a note in our database that this material was to be excluded in future scrapes). Cortina (named redacted) said we could use those courses in that website.” I assume that by “acquisition”, the reader is meant to understand “permission to provide access via the WiderNet website” or some similar intent. I have sent an Email to Ms. Ashcraft and to Mr. Streit requesting clarification.

CONCLUSION

Usefulness to the Community of Language Learners
It seems to me that, although the WiderNet project does not yet have a Language Portal, the mission of this non-profit organisation will most likely lead to the development of such a feature and to the hosting of information and/or websites dedicated to language learning beyond those mentioned above.

Comments, Corrections?
Please feel at liberty to comment on or to correct any of the above. As a reminder, Ms. Ashcraft has kindly offered to respond to your questions.

EDITED:
Insertion of additional quotation marks so as to better indicate the textual material drawn from the WiderNet website.
Minor, but significant to me, changes to the text.
Typos, typos, typos !!!
And still more typos!
Last edited by Speakeasy on Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ericounet
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby Ericounet » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:02 am

hi,

I am the administrator of the Yojik (Ericounet). I'll make a very short answer.

The yojik is, was, will never be to sale.

I spent thousands of hours on this website, for many years now, for free.

I'm the only person working on this website. Never got help from anybody. Barely got "bad links report" or "thank you".

There were, was, will be no ads, nothing related to money, which is completely against my philosophy (as I already talked about in many posts on the forum).

So, this is just bullshit.

I don't know about LiveLingua position.

I'll keep the site as long as I can physically, as it is: free, free for everybody to a make copy of it.

I hope this will clarify everything.

Eric

PS: I hate this kind of problems :(:(:(:(


I found emails from Laura Ashley in my mailbox asking the permission to copy the yojik website and asking for the email of Cortina director. I gave them. There was never any problem to copy my website as I aready wrote about it many times. More copies there are, more secure are our material.


copies of the emails with Laura follow:


*********************************


Thank you



Laura A.



From: Eric Streit [mailto:eric@yojik.eu]
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2016 1:42 PM
To: Laura Ashcraft <lashcraft@widernet.org>
Subject: Re: Nonprofit requests permission to distribute content - WiderNet Project



Hi Laura,

here it is :

Magdalen Livesey' <m.livesey@cortinalearning.com>

Eric





Le 01/09/2016 à 16:56, Laura Ashcraft a écrit :

Can you give me the email for the Cortina courses you have? We would like to distribute these courses as well but we need their permission first.



Thank you,

Laura Ashcraft



From: Eric Streit [mailto:eric@yojik.eu]
Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2016 2:32 PM
To: Laura Ashcraft <lashcraft@widernet.org>
Subject: Re: Nonprofit requests permission to distribute content - WiderNet Project



Hi Laura,



no problem; just keep in mind that the newfsi.yojik.net (still not finished ..) website is hosted on my home server with adsl line (the upload speed is not very fast).



Very soon, I'll switch the old fsi-language website with the new newfsi website.



Maybe you could just wait a little bit: the main server is really faster than my home server. (I already uploaded the newfsi website on the main server, but it's not yet online).



Best regards,



Eric Streit







Le 25/08/2016 à 16:04, Laura Ashcraft a écrit :

The WiderNet Project seeks your permission to distribute "The Yojik Website" published at https://newfsi.yojik.net/index.html via the eGranary Digital Library to people lacking Internet access. This non-profit is affiliated with the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill that promotes low-cost educational content and communication for underserved populations with little to no Internet access (either due to exorbitant costs or lack of supporting infrastructure). All attributions to you will be kept. Thank you and if you have any questions please email me at lashcraft@widernet.org. My organization can be researched at http://www.widernet.org.



Thank you,



Laura Ashcraft, MSIS

Digital Librarian

The WiderNet Project

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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials: addendum

Postby Ericounet » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:19 am

I'm furious.

Before publishing such bullshit, you could contact me BEFORE!

Everything I can write now, will be suspicious.

I'm furious

I'm furious

I'm furious

Eric
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials: addendum

Postby Cainntear » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:07 am

Ericounet wrote:I'm furious.

Before publishing such bullshit, you could contact me BEFORE!

Everything I can write now, will be suspicious.

I'm furious

I'm furious

I'm furious

Eric
.

Don't worry, I don't think anyone misunderstood. The word "acquisition"/"acquire" wasn't the right word, but it's clear to me at least that you've only given permission to WiderNet to mirror your site on offline servers.
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby Speakeasy » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:20 pm

Éric, I suspected that, under the constraints of time during the genuinely well-intended communications reported above, there had been an unfortunate choice of words, hence my qualifier: “I assume that by ‘acquisition’, the reader is meant to understand ‘permission to provide access via the WiderNet website’ or some similar intent.” No harm has been done to your credibility; however, our relationship has suffered a serious blow and I am the unthinking author who delivered it. I offer you my most profound apologies for the misunderstanding … the Law of Unintended Consequences is that actions always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby rdearman » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:24 pm

@ Ericounet - Personally I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for hosting the website and the FSI materials. I, for one, have used your website and want to give you a heartfelt shout out. THANKS!!! I know a lot of us here have benefited from your selfless action.
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby iguanamon » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:51 pm

Ericounet, you have done a tremendous service for the language-learning community in making your work in preserving these language-learning materials freely available to everyone and without remuneration. As is said in Spanish- Un mil de gracias- A thousand thanks!
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby RandomQuotes » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:58 pm

@ Ericounet I, too, have found your site to be an invaluable resource. I believe that when Ms. Ashcraft used the word "acquired" she meant it as obtained permission to use, or added to the library of sites, rather than to obtain ownership of the domain.
Last edited by RandomQuotes on Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby tommus » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:12 pm

I'd also like to add my thanks to you for doing this. I can only imagine how much work it has been and continues to be. I appreciate it. Thanks very much!
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Re: The WiderNet Project: Possible Source of Language Materials

Postby Ericounet » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:07 pm

hi again,

Laura and Michael wrote to me an email.
I answered.
I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Thanks,

Eric
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