A printed version of online reference site Wikipedia could be yours for $500,000 – but you might have to clear some space on your bookshelves. Artist Michael Mandiberg has written software to convert the site’s 11.5 million entries into a format suitable for printing.
An exhibition in New York’s East Village will show the entire 11GB compressed file being uploaded to print-on-demand site Lulu.com. The upload is expected to take two weeks, after that time the entire collection will be available to buy. The paper would cost £50,000 alone for anyone trying to recreate it at home. The very first entry will be the exclamation mark, followed by chess move notation “!!” and a Sacramento dance-punk band called “!!!”. But given that Wikipedia is constantly updated by a huge team of volunteers, the collection will be out of date before it is even available to buy.
The final edition is likely to run to 7,600 volumes. The contents section will be 91 volumes alone. The feat is part poetic gesture and part data visualisation project. Mandiberg said, “When I started, I wondered ‘what if I took this new thing and made it into that old thing’.”
Lulu.com Vice President Dan Dillon told The New York Times, “It’s not every day someone comes to you and says, ‘I’d like to make a printed inventory of the largest storehouse of human knowledge in English, and would like to use your website’.”