Wikipedia is an absolute phenomenon when it comes to aggregating the knowledge of people around the world. There are over 75,000 active contributors working on more than 5,300,000 articles in more than 100 languages (source). The number of articles is growing tremendously from month-to-month with an increase of about 6% every month…that’s about 300,000 new articles per month!
The success of Wikipedia is astounding to say the least. The site puts millions of articles at your fingertips, but what about when you’re not on the Internet? Below you’ll find four solutions for taking Wikipedia articles offline so that you can read them anywhere.
—Wikipedia on CD/DVD—
This is probably the most convenient way to get your hands on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia on DVD project contains a collection of 2,000 articles (including images) using software called Kiwix to make browsing and searching the articles a lot easier:
As of right now, the software comes in an ISO image format which makes it faster to get it burned to a CD or DVD. The file weighs in at 421MB so it is still able to fit on a CD, but as they continue to increase the number of articles that are included I would expect that it will only be available for DVD’s. If you’re not able to burn the CD then you can purchase it for $13.90 plus shipping (which is $1.54 in the United States).
You can browse all of the included articles here and you’ll notice that they still include many of the links, such as the “Related Articles”, at the bottom. What’s nice is that they point the links to the articles on the CD so that you don’t have to be online to read related articles. The downside is that not every related article is available on the DVD so some of them are not hyperlinked.
—Wikipedia HTML Pages—
Wikipedia actually provides all of the HTML pages for the articles on a monthly basis. The download is broken up into several files because all of them together total about 6GB…and remember that is just for text!
There are still image files available from November 2005 that total 75GB, but on the download site they say that the updated image files should be available in the middle of 2007. If the image file from 2005 is 75GB…I don’t even want to know how big the current one is considering at that time they had 836,000 articles on the English site, and now the English site has over 1.7 million!
—Wikipedia Database Download—
There are also dumps of the Wikipedia database that you can download if you want the most current information available. These also don’t contain the images and the downloads are still several gigabytes.
To view these pages you’ll need to run MySQL or mediawiki…or as an alternative you can download and install the Zipedia Firefox Extension.
—Wikipedia on Your iPod—
Lastly, there is the Encylopodia project who’s goal is to put Wikipedia articles on your iPod. The download is 1.5GB and provides search capabilities so that you can quickly find the information that you’re looking for. Unfortunately this won’t work for anyone who has a 5th generation iPod video or an iPod Nano, but it should work for everyone else.
I’m sure by now you realize how large Wikipedia is, and there is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to its massive size and insane growth rate. If Wikipedia was to be published in a set of books similar to hardcopy encyclopedias, this is how many it would take:
If there is truth to the saying “knowledge is power” then Wikipedia probably owns the world. :)