Does anybody really fund these things, anyway? Or just click Like and pass them around? I suppose somebody must, but some of the projects are just sheer dumbness, like this group who’s put together The Wikipedia Books Project to… print out Wikipedia. The whole thing.
Yes, the encyclopedia that has effectively put print encyclopedias out of business… now back in print!
What’s wrong with this picture?
Let’s count down my Top 5 reasons not to fund this project. Not saying they’re the only ones. Feel free to add your own in the comments section!
5. Paper, and the waste thereof. Let’s see… approximately 1,000 books with 1,200 pages each equals a whole bunch of paper (“more than 600,000 sheets”). Project creators say, “The books will be printed on FSC certified paper that comes from sustainable forestry.” Let’s go one better than “sustainable” and keep Wikipedia virtual.
4. Space, and the waste thereof. These 1000 books hope to live on a bookshelf “more than 10 meters (32ft) long and about 2.5 meters (8ft) high.” After the planned exhibit, the project organizers hope to donate this monstrosity to a “big public library.” One that’s big and empty, I hope, with no books of its own to shelve and none of the space crunches of any library I have ever seen. The Fantasyland Public Library, maybe. Where the librarians love to dust volumes that are never pulled off the shelves.
3. Dull as paste. I just clicked “Random Article” on Wikipedia to see what would turn up as a typical entry you’d find in the printed and bound Wikipedia project. Let’s see what it turned up… oh, the Floris Historic District, “a historic district that is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)… located in the vicinity of the city of Herndon, Virginia, and just about one mile east of Dulles International Airport.” Seriously, I just clicked it randomly, once. You try it: gimme a random Wikipedia article NOW!
2. Stealing from volunteers. They’ve made up a bogus explanation of how they aim “to honor the countless volunteers who have created this fascinating trove of knowledge.” How will they honour these 20 million dedicated volunteers? By raising $50,000 and then… using the money to… promote themselves, their software and their business, a printing company where you can buy printed editions of Wikipedia articles.
1. Planned obsolescence. The number-one reason I can think of is, well, let’s say it in the words of the project team themselves: “Obviously a printed Wikipedia will be outdated within seconds.” Um, yes, exactly. This is a reason against printing it, not an incentive to preserve it “for later generations.”
Honestly, I could probably think of lots more if I gave it a few seconds. But they’ve raised $10,000 so far, so somebody (maybe Jimmy Wales) must think it’s brilliant.
Have I missed any reasons that you can think of? Here you go… the Comments section!