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Wikipedia: Back to the Paper Form

print wikipedia, wikipedia book projectWikipedia is one of the most popular sources of information on the Internet. It is used by people of different age from various social groups. The creation of this online encyclopedia shook the very concept of the collection of information to the core. There was no need of searching through dozens of dusty enormous books and being stuck in the library for hours – no more. The knowledge has become easily accessible and everybody can now find any information in a matter of seconds – if the query is properly written. It would look insane if somebody tried to print Wikipedia, wouldn’t it? It’s like going back in time. Well, there is actually a group of people who think that publishing Wikipedia is not a silly idea at all.


The Heroes and Their Goals

The group’s name is Wikipedia Book Project and they plan to print Wikipedia in 1,000 hard covers 1,200 pages each. This will take over 600,000 sheets of paper (Amazon rainforest cry and mourn at the reference alone). These people plan to raise $50,000 in order to pay for this crazy project and it looks quite possible that they will get enough money this spring already. So, why would anyone want to print Wikipedia? There are two main reasons. The first one – currently Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia in the whole world. It is larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica (the last print edition consisted of 32 volumes) and even longer than Ökonomische Enzyklopädie, written in the 19-th century in German (242 volumes). The second reason is Wikipedia’s importance in history: as the members of Wikipedia Book Project say, “to later generations, this might be a period piece from the beginning of the digital revolution.”


A Team Behind the Curtains

Fundraising is surely important, when talking of such a global project as Wikipedia’s printing. But there must be the people, who can actually do all the creative and technical job. And there are three of a kind behind Wikipedia Book Project: Heiko Hees, Alex Boerger and Christoph Kepper. All of them are members of PediaPress – “the official print on demand partner of the Wikimedia Foundation”. The developers of PediaPress invented a special book tool (which is available on the open Internet source), thanks to which everybody can collect any information from Wikipedia pages and make a book out of it. There are some books, successfully put together with the help of this tool since 2007, but the members of PediaPress have never faced such a challenge, as printing the whole Wikipedia, ever before. Such a project requires patience and incredible skill, but, as Boerger, Kepper and Hees think, the game is worth the candle.

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