Very soon, you may be able to get a printed volume online crowdsourced fountain of knowledge in a book form.

There is a new exhibition from artist and programmer Michael Mandiberg running from June 18 to July 2 at Denny Gallery in New York.

Michael who is an  artist and programmer has created software that breaks down the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia database, creating thousands of volumes replete with covers, and uploads them ready to a print-on-demand service.

This project has been created with direct support from the Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit behind the ubiquitous online encyclopedia, and self-publishing platform Lulu.com.

Visitors will be able to witness the actual upload of Print Wikipedia to Lulu.com via a projection of the Lulu.com website, though a selection of Print Wikipedia volumes will also be made available to peruse on-site.

The upload process will take at least 11 days, though it could run up to two full weeks.

Denny Gallery will also be open 24/7 for the opening weekend, “in recognition that the computer itself works continuously.” A separate computer monitor with the command line updates will be set up too, and the script will also be posted to the Print Wikipedia Twitter account after each volume has been uploaded.

Mandiberg says the project is largely futile given the nature of Wikipedia — the gargantuan online knowledge base is constantly updated by millions of people around the world, thus rendering any printed version almost immediately obsolete.

People will be able to order physical copies of Wikipedia — 7,471 volumes of Wikipedia articles, consisting of 700 pages each, or 5,244,111 pages in total at a cost of $500,000. Individual volumes can be procured at $80.

The Wikimedia Foundation concedes that it doesn’t “expect anyone to purchase the whole set, though it is important that they could.

Mandiberg’s effort to bring the digital encyclopaedia to print also includes a gigantic 36-volume index of the 7.5 million named Wikipedia contributors.

Via VB