World

Artist prints out Wikipedia, fills nearly 7,500 books

Anyone who has spent an entire afternoon clicking on link after link in Wikipedia will know that the online encyclopedia is pretty much an endless abyss of articles.

But have you ever wondered just what Wikipedia would look like if it were condensed into book form?

Michael Mandiberg has the answer.

The New York artist coded two computer programs that downloaded the entire English Wikipedia database of about 50 gigabytes and compiled the 11,594,743 articles into PDF form.

He then uploaded everything onto print-on-demand website Lulu.com – a process which lasted 25 days.

The result? A mindblowing 7,473 books containing 5,244,111 pages – including a table of contents that had to be spread across 91 different volumes and a list of contributors containing 7.5 million authors.

For his art installation exhibited at a gallery in New York, Mandiberg printed out 106 volumes and painted a representation of the rest on walls.

Sense of size

Speaking to CBS News, Mandiberg said: "Books are really useful measurements of knowledge.

"We have no idea how long it would take us as humans to read though a gigabyte or 50 gigabytes of data, which is about how much information is in the Wikipedia database I was working from. But we have clear understanding of how long it would take us to read a book.

"We have no idea how much data is sitting in NSA's server farm, no idea how big Facebook's database is. We understand it's big, but we don't have a sense of it.

"It's almost impossible for us to have as sense of it. This is a way of really understanding how big things are."

 

 

Sources: CBS News, Mail Online, Metro

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