In an ambitious project, a New York artist is creating a print edition of Wikipedia that runs to 7,600 volumes and is priced at $500,000. Michael Mandiberg, who teaches at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York, has written software that parses the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia database and programmatically lays out 7,600 volumes, complete with covers, and then uploads them to print-on-demand site Lulu.com.
An exhibition in New York’s East Village will show the entire 11GB compressed file being uploaded to the site. The exhibition will see the Denny Gallery’s walls lined with wallpaper showing the spines of the first 1,980 volumes in the set, supplemented by 106 actual physical volumes, each of which runs to 700 pages. The first entry will be the 91-volume table of contents listing the nearly 11.5 million articles, according to Sky News. Then there will be more than 500 volumes containing entries beginning with typographical symbols and numbers, starting with ‘!’ (the exclamation mark), ‘!!’ (notation for an excellent move in chess) and ‘!!!’ (a dance-punk band from Sacramento). There is also a 36-volume contributors index, listing each of the nearly 7.5 million named users who have made even a single edit since Wikipedia began in 2001, New York Times reported.
The entire upload is estimated to take 11 to 14 days, after which the whole set will be available to buy for $500,000. Individual volumes are available for purchase online for $80. Mr. Mandiberg, a seasoned Wikipedia contributor with nearly 2,000 edits to his name, first started batting around the idea for the project in 2009. In 2012, he pushed the project further, throwing himself into what he called “a series of unending nontrivial programming tasks” necessary to formatting the data behind Wikipedia — all of which is freely available online — for upload.