January 15, 2016

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Wikipedia Celebrates its 15th birthday –
If you want a modern wonder of the internet, look no further than Wikipedia, which turns 15 years old today. It’s gigantic (more than five million articles in English alone), and gigantically useful for those seeking a grounding in any topic. It has illustrated how the internet and the power of the crowd can disrupt established businesses: both the book-based Encyclopaedia Britannica and Microsoft’s CD-based Encarta fell before the onslaught of a simple collaborative document that anyone could edit and enhance. Even Google failed with its rival, launched in 2008 and killed amid indifference in 2012. It even has a creation myth; people think it was the effort of Jimmy Wales alone, but in fact he and Larry Sanger (an “internet project developer” – thanks, Wikipedia) were working on the idea of an online encyclopedia called Nupedia, which began in 1999.  [Daily Telegraph]  [This web site is a supporter of Wikipedia]
Jimmy_WalesJimmy Wales

Video of the Day –

22×22 rubik’s cube World Record

List of the Day

15 amazing things since the idea of Wikipedia was launched to the world on January 15, 2001. [Wikipedia]

Ward Cunningham, designer of Wikipedia

Millions of people have gathered all this knowledge by working together from everywhere around the world.

Ward Cunningham designed the wiki, the first internet platform that allowed many people to work on a document at the same time. He named it ‘wiki,’ a Hawaiian word that means ‘quick.’ (There is even a wiki-wiki shuttle in Honolulu.)

The Wiktionary logo

You know the encyclopedia, but there’s so much more.

Did you also know there’s a free dictionary, free textbooks, quotes, learning tools, a travel guide, and more?

Program for the Wikipeda exhibit

The first Wikipedia exhibition opened on March 17, 2006.

It was held at the Göttingen University Library in Germany.

An actual robot

Behind the scenes, bots do some of the repetitive jobs so that volunteers don’t have to.

There are almost 2,000 bots approved for use on the English Wikipedia alone, and they even have names. PhotoCatBot helps people find articles that need images.

The Wikipedia 'W'

Wikipedia became one of the top 10 websites in the world in 2007.

It’s the only non-profit anywhere near the top.

An angry elephant holding a glass of whiskey

People who work on Wikipedia are called “Wikipedians”.

Building the world’s largest database of information with people from all over can be challenging. Wikipedians write rules, guidelines and essays to help other people understand being a Wikipedian. “No angry mastodons” suggests that you shouldn’t edit when you’re hungry or intoxicated.

A pair of quail

The first photo ever uploaded to Commons was a pair of quail.

…while this scan of the world’s first photograph uploaded to Wikimedia Commons is entirely inscrutable. Speaking of birds and photos, there is such a thing as pigeon photography: “A homing pigeon was fitted with an aluminium breast harness to which a lightweight time-delayed miniature camera could be attached.” (There was even a stamp for pigeon mail. It’s adorable and shaped like a triangle.)

A black poodle

One of the first articles ever written was for the standard poodle.

It simply said, “A dog by which all others are measured.” The English Wikipedia page for poodleis now more than 5,000 words, and includes the many names that people have invented for poodles crossed with other dog breeds: Labradoodle, Poochon, Cockapoo, Spoodle, Maltipoo, Goldendoodle, Schnoodle, Pekapoos, Cavapoo, and Bernedoodle.

A screenshot from the Wikipedia blackout

Wikipedia helps keep the Internet open and free.

In 2012, the Wikipedia communities blacked out the site to protest SOPA.

An old-time wrestling match

The second-most-edited English Wikipedia article of all time is about pro wrestling.

A snake on a magic towel

One of the competition entries for a new Wikivoyage logo was a snake on a magic towel.

Sir Carton de Wiart

British army officer Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart’s Wikipedia article has been retweeted more than 3,500 times.

Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880–5 June 1963) was a British Army officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” in various Commonwealth countries. He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in the First World War, he wrote, ‘Frankly I had enjoyed the war.’”

Lord Byron, who took a bear to college

Wikipedians keep lists of controversies and hoaxes on Wikipedia.

One hoax claimed that Lord Byron kept a crocodile and a honey badger as pets. It would not be easy to uncover this hoax—during his lifetime, in addition to numerous cats, dogs and horses, Byron kept a fox, monkeys, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, peacocks, guinea hens, an Egyptian crane,a badger, geese, a heron, and a goat. He took a bear to college when he found that dogs were not allowed.

A telescope, looking ahead

Researchers can predict the spread of illness from data on Wikipedia.

“Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory were able to make extremely accurate forecasts about the spread of dengue fever in Brazil and flu in the U.S., Japan, Poland and Thailand by examining three years’ worth of Wikipedia search data.”

 It would take 16 years to read all of English Wikipedia.

And that’s if you didn’t take any breaks, and never slept.

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