Futility Paints Utility: Wikipedia Reproduced
A 5,000-page homage to the times, or what the Boston Molasses Disaster has to do with digital culture.
By Maria Popova
Wikipedia is the world’s most glorious case study in crowdsourcing. And its utility isn’t merely in the amount of information available, but also in the incredible accessibility of it — anything from a complete run-down of Seinfeld to the Boston Molasses Disaster is just a search box and a few hits on the keyboard away.
So what happens if the same immense pool of information were available, only in a much less user-friendly format?
That’s exactly what art student Rob Matthews explores in his Wikipedia reproduction project — a 5,000-page tome containing all of Wikipedia’s featured articles, so large and dense that the Gutenberg press would’ve chocked on it.
A completely preposterous proposition, the project is a testament to the digital convenience we’ve come to take for granted. It’s a brilliant homage to Wikipedia’s utility by painting the utter futility of its analog antithesis.
Reproducing Wikipedia in a dysfunctional physical form helps to question its use as an internet resource.
Now, instead of leafing through to page 1,327 of the fully printed Wikipedia, go read all about the Boston Molasses Disaster just by clicking here.
Published June 11, 2009