Be it a late night assignment or a random fact that you wish to clarify, Wikipedia has had our backs no matter what. True enough it may be considered the printed encyclopedia killer, but the sheer crowd-sourced project has been a life saver for us all.
Now how would you like Wikipedia in printed form? Well, that may actually a reality. Artist and programmer Michael Mandiberg will be showcasing his exhibition titled “From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!” from June 18 to July 2 at Denny Gallery in New York. What’s special about this exhibition is that Mandiberg has developed an application that in essence breaks down the sum of Wikipedia (English) and creates thousands of volumes complete with covers which is then uploaded and ready to print based on demand.
In addition, the project has been established with direct support from the Wikimedia Foundation, and Lulu.com which is basically a self-publishing platform.
How does the exhibition work? Well, visitors can see the actual upload of Print Wikipedia to Lulu.com (carried out via a projection of the Lulu.com website). The upload process itself will take around 11 days at a bare minimum but it could go all the way up to 2 weeks.
The Gallery will also be open 24/7 in lieu of the opening weekend so that the computer will carry out the work continuously. Additionally, a separate computer monitor with the command line updates will also be set up and the script will also be posted to the Print Wikipedia Twitter account after each volume has been uploaded.
Now comes the irony. Mandiberg himself states that the project is futile given the nature of Wikipedia and the rate at which content is added or edited.
“Once a volume is printed, it is already out of date.”
Okay so it’s not exactly a profitable business venture, but you still can order physical copies of Wikipedia. You will basically have 7471 volumes, each consisting of 700 pages. Do the math and you end up with 5,244,111 pages in total. How much will this set you back? Oh only around $500,000 for the whole thing. Or you can purchase individual volumes for $80 each.
Though they don’t’ expect anyone to buy the whole set, the Wikimedia Foundation says that it is important that they could.