Despite the fact that countless thousands are on it at any given time, the Internet can feel like kind of a lonely place. Being on a website with thousands of other people feels no different than being on a website alone, and “seeing people” on the Internet is more like blinking and seeing that someone has written something on the wall than it is like having human contact. It’s this inherent “alone together” aspect of digital life that makes sites like wikistream so revelatory; it lets you watch a livestream of Wikipedia edits. That may not sound like much, but in its own oddly specific way, it lays bare the true magnitude of the unseen crowds of which you’re constantly a part.
All wikistream really is, is a scrolling list of article names, with a bit more data tacked on either side. Each entry has an icon denoting whether the editor is a Wikipedia user, Wikipedia robot, or anonymous. Then the Wikipedia’s language is listed in brackets, then the article name, and the number of characters involved in the edit. Naturally, you can filter your stream by any of these factors as well.
I cannot overstress how amazing it is to see the speed with which Wikipedia evolves itself with each passing second. When you have it set up to feed you all the edits, or even just the English language ones, the entries are off the page before you get a good chance to read most of them. So go, take a look, soak it in, and remember the next time you’re sitting around in your underwear, browsing the Internet in the wee hours of the morning: You are not alone. It’s up to you how to feel about that.
(h/t The Daily What)
- Wikipedia was, and maybe still is, considering an anti-SOPA blackout
- Wikipedia’s list of common misconceptions is equally mind-blowing