We all know the feeling. Went to a party. Had a bit too much to drink. Not sure how we got home. Wake up in the morning with a debilitating hangover and an all-too-familiar bed partner: Wikipedia. She’s just lying there, taunting us. So brainy, but so plain. Always thinks she’s better than us. Why didn’t we go to sleep with someone hotter? What exactly did we do with her? And will Britannica find out?
All that is about to change. A Baltimore-based design startup called Friends of the Web has just given Wikipedia a mobile makeover and added DNA trace analysis. You can call it Wikiweb, “a delightful Wikipedia reader for your iPhone and iPad that visualizes the connections between articles.” That means you can see how the article you’re reading is connected to others, and how you got to it in the first place. No more morning-after mysteries.
Wikiweb, which launches today and retails for $4.99, lets you peruse Wikipedia in a fetching new layout and see the connections between articles related to the one you are currently reading. You can also create webs of articles and share them via email or Twitter.
“We think the world would be a better place if more people read Wikipedia for pleasure,” says Andy Mangold from Friends of the Web, a four-man crew that lives and works together in a Baltimore house. “If we can stimulate curiosity and wonder with our app, we’ll consider it a huge success.”
The team, which also created Jittergram, wants to encourage people to interact with information on Wikipedia and encourage casual browsing, instead of people just using it for completing homework assignments and winning dinner-table arguments. Or, one can only assume by reading between the lines, for drunken hook-ups.
There are plenty of other Wikipedia readers on the market, so the key differentiating feature here is that web of connections. Mangold says that Friends often get sucked down Wikipedia’s rabbit hole by following links from page to page and reading about a host of different subjects. “We’ve found some of our most cherished articles this way, and we wanted to build a system that was more conducive to this type of browsing.”
The guys are so keen on Wikipedia, in fact, that they’re donating a portion of the proceeds to the Wikimedia foundation, which, considering the source of the content on which they have built this product, is fair enough.
Seems like a reasonable way to contribute without having to be stared down by Jimmy. But then, he’s only doing that because he knows what you did with his daughter last night.