A German company, PediaPress, wants to print the entire English edition of Wikipedia. They’ve set up a campaign on Indiegogo to raise the R522 850 they will need to actually pull it off. They say that printing the online encyclopaedia out is the best way to experience the true size of the site.
Their goal is to display the project at the Wikimania Conference that will be held at London’s Barbican Centre in August this year. If they make more than their target, they want to take the exhibition on a world tour. When that is over, they’ll donate the entire thing to a large library, to be displayed as an artefact from the beginning of the digital revolution.
With over 4 000 000 articles, printing the English version of Wikipedia will be a massive undertaking. The folks at PediaPress are aiming to print the online resource on 1 200 000 pieces of paper, or if they print double sided, 600 000 sheets. These will be bound into 1000 books made up of 1200 pages each. The collection will be displayed on just over 10 metres of shelves. It will be printed in black and white, but if they raise enough extra money, they want to print in colour.
It seems a bit extravagant. Especially when you do a rough calculation of how many printer cartridges they’d have to go through to get it right. If we work it out using Canon ink cartridges, they’d likely need about 15 000. Using toner cartridges would probably be more affordable. If they used Samsung toner cartridges, they'd have to use roughy 6000. They’d most likely have to funnel the majority of the funds raised into buying printer ink.
Sadly, it seems like a printed copy of Wikipedia is far from a reality. PediaPress’ campaign deadline was reached on 12 April and they had only raised R131 615, just over a quarter of their goal. No news yet on whether they plan on extending their campaign or if they’ll attempt the project at a later stage.