The Wikipedia Revolution

Finally, Andrew Lih’s book The Wikipedia Revolution: How a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia will be launched officially tomorrow, March 19. I have been looking forward to this launch for a long time, and fully expect the book to be a page-turner, as Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief Wired Magazine, promises us. This book is a historic narrative of our truly amazing adventure, rather than yet another guide, which makes it a first.

Andrew Lih (picture taken by Benjamin Ellis, from Flickr)

Andrew is in an excellent position to tell this story. He has been with the project since early days. The first time CNN introduced Wikipedia to its audience was in August 2003, when they brought the story about a professor in journalism in Hong Kong who got about 80 students involved in editing Wikipedia, thus flooding the young project with facts about Hong Kong. CNN: “And suddenly everyone used to an edit every few minutes or every hour on Wikipedia started seeing this flurry of activity.” I remember vividly how excited I was, seeing our project getting CNN’s official stamp of notoriety.

Andrew has ever since taken a keen interest in the process, in how a virtual and rather casual get-together of geeky info-junks evolved into a movement that matters on a world scale. He has not only been an active editor, but a keen observer, amused and full of praise when possible, critical when needed. So this book is a logical next step.

Andrew is also the initiator and host of Wikipedia Weekly, “the [[podcast]] for Wikimedians“. Via this medium he and other observant Wikimedians inform the listener about the projects, reflect on strenghts and weaknesses, threats and opportunities in an improvised, somewhat chaotic, sometimes drawn-out but often captivating exchange.

As a small tribute to Andrew’s work I wrote a script that harvests Wikipedia Weekly meta pages and produces some statistics. There is a page with basic stats and an index, and a more verbose version with comments. These pages are updated once a day.

Since Wikipedia Weekly’s launch in 2006 a total of 2956 minutes (more than two full 24 hour days) of podcasts have been released, and have been downloaded in large numbers:

2006:    9187 mp3 downloads,   5447 ogg downloads,  498 minutes podcast
2007:   75045 mp3 downloads,  77951 ogg downloads,  838 minutes podcast
2008:   34443 mp3 downloads,  16681 ogg downloads, 1302 minutes podcast
2009:    2796 mp3 downloads,    964 ogg downloads,  319 minutes podcast 

total: 121471 mp3 downloads, 101043 ogg downloads, 2956 minutes podcast


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