Rome wasn’t built in a day; Wikipedia was

How amazing an achievement is Wikipedia?

There are approaching 4,000,000 articles in the English language version. Let’s say that on average each one took 10 hours to write (I think this is way on the high side given how many stubs there are). That’s 40m man-hours. By way of contrast, the Great Pyramid at Giza was estimated to have used an average workforce of 15,000 for 10 years (according to, hmm, Wikipedia), which comes to around 20x as much effort as

Presume only Americans have contributed and that the average American watches 5 hours of tv per day.

If 3% of the population chose not to watch tv today, then the entire content of wikipedia could be written by them during that time.

Another way of expressing it would be if every adult contributed for c10 minutes you’d have Wikipedia.

Anyway, here is a history of the world in 100 seconds built using geocoding of articles on wikipedia:


4 Responses to Rome wasn’t built in a day; Wikipedia was

  1. William Brooks says:

    There is a great documentary about Wikipedia online, can’t remember the name … but one thing that stood out if how when the released it the content was pretty poor and took sometime for the crowdsourcing to sort it out. Something to keep in mind for your own user generated projects – they are going to take some time to hit their groove. Have patience.

  2. Great article! I agree that Wikipedia is an amazing achievement, though as a college student we aren’t allowed to use it as a reference… 😦 sigh. I loved how you talked about if 3% of people chose to write for Wikipedia rather than watch tv that a whole new Wikipedia would be written!! Then again, I doubt you could find people willing to give up tv…

  3. Chemish says:

    @Jessica. That is a shame as studies show Wikipedia is as accurate – or more – than traditional research tools like encyclopedias. I think the idea of ground-up knowledge is frightening to some.

  4. Pingback: You couldn’t make it up « Marc Gawley

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