In a recent What If...?, XKCD's Randall Munroe tackles the important question: "If you had a printed version of the whole of (say, the English) Wikipedia, how many printers would you need in order to keep up with the changes made to the live version?" Turns out the answer is SIX, but it would cost $500,000 a month for the ink, and you'd need 300m^3 a month to store the paper.
The English Wikipedia currently receives about 125,000 to 150,000 edits each day, or 90-100 per minute.
We could try to define a way to measure the "word count" of the average edit, but that's hard bordering on impossible. Fortunately, we don't need to—we can just estimate that each change is going to require us to reprint a page somewhere. Many edits will actually change multiple pages—but many other edits are reverts, which would let us put back pages we've already printed. One page per edit seems like a reasonable middle ground.
For a mix of photos, tables, and text typical of Wikipedia, a good inkjet printer might put out 15 pages per minute. That means you'd only need about six printers running at any given time to keep pace with the edits.
The paper would stack up quickly. Using Rob Matthews' book as a starting point, I did my own back-of-the-envelope estimate for the size of the current English Wikipedia. Based on the average length of featured articles vs. all articles, I came up with an estimate of 300 cubic meters for a printout of the whole thing.
By comparison, if you were trying to keep up with the edits, you'd print out 300 cubic meters every month.
Updating a Printed Wikipedia
Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine has a history of blocking his critics on social media, including Grant Stern, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime group.
Facebook — which accounts for as much as 75% of the traffic to popular websites — tweaked its algorithm to downrank those same publishers, who had been engaged in an arms-race to dominate Facebook users’ feeds through techniques intended to gain high rank in Facebook’s secret scoring system.
The Ecuadoran Embassy in London has confirmed Wikileaks’ accusation that it terminated Julian Assange’s access to its wifi network because it disapproved of Assange and Wikileaks’ “intervention in the affairs of other states” by publishing material pertaining to the impending US election.
TV antennas are making a comeback, and the Ghost Indoor HDTV antenna is a great example of why. Unlike the old bunny ear-style antennas, this compact antenna is barely noticeable and picks up channels easily. Plus with the addition of streaming services like Netflix, we find ourselves with plenty to watch without a pricey monthly cable bill. The Ghost […]
I’ve never really felt the need to purchase a smartwatch because a lot of them aren’t very functional, but at just shy of $30, the Martian Notifier Smartwatch was worth checking out. For that low of a price, it actually does feature an impressive amount of functionality, and comes in handy when you don’t want to be carrying around your […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]