Wikipedia is an unimaginably vast source of information. For every extensively annotated article on Jesus Christ or the history of New York City, there’s a smaller post on an esoteric topic like Microporellidae or the Russian footballer Gennady Logofet.
Wiki Picks, a Tumblr devoted to trawling and showcasing this stranger side of the free encyclopedia, has been running for just a few days, and in that time, it’s uncovered some real gems: there’s Mill Ends Park, the worlds smallest park (it’s basically a single shrub); bat bombs, which, unbelievably, are exactly what they sound like; skeleton armies; a scientific study showing pigeons can distinguish between a Picasso and a Monet.
The Dunmore Pineapple, said to “rank as the most bizarre building in Scotland,” according to Wikipedia
“I guess overall it’s just a fun diversion,” Ari Eckols, creator of Wiki Picks, tells ANIMAL via email. “I’ve got quotes and images of all sorts queued up — there’s hardly any rhyme or reason to it. I’m going to showcase interesting art and historical artifacts, quotes that are funny, educational, creepy or otherwise noteworthy. At some times it will take on the tone of an art piece, with bits of text that seem strangely poetic when taken out of context, but overall it’s just fun stuff.”
Browsing the blog so far feels like a free-associative trip through the backwaters of the internet, and that reflects the way in which it’s curated. Eckols often comes across his material organically, while using Wikipedia for informative purposes. Read a few articles, click around, and “pretty soon I’ll be reading about the production techniques of The Eric Andre Show, or the inter-dimensional elves people encounter on DMT trips, or shocking Soviet medical experiments,” he says.
“Pigeon with German miniature camera, probably taken during the First World War.”
Of course, Wikipedia is an infamously sketchy source of information, and that plays into the tone of Wiki Picks as well. “That’s why I’m hesitant to describe it as an educational tool,” says Eckols. “The humor in some of these quotes lies in exposing how broken Wikipedia can be at times — random bits of informal text in an otherwise rigidly academic article on Obama, for instance, or the straight-up new-age BS in the article on DMT elves.”
Eckols, a 17-year-old high school senior, is no stranger to this kind of thing. Last year, he published 10 Poems Ruthlessly Mangled by Google Translate, an ebook of works written collaboratively with Google’s translation algorithms; he also makes what he describes as “depressing artwork” and “experimental music” under the pseudonym Kynes, and fluently speaks the weird internet’s native tongue of absurdist humor surreal non-sequiturs on Twitter. “[I] spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to abuse various online services for fun and artistic merit,” he says.
Wiki Picks presumably arose out of this sense of how the internet tends to work, and how to subvert it. “I started the blog because I kept naturally stumbling upon quotes that I wanted to share,” says Eckols. “I have a Wiki sixth sense.”