Sure, it already contains a galaxy's worth of articles, but what if you could search Wikipedia like it was a self-contained nebula? French engineering student and computer science master's candidate Owen Cornec has sent this idea into the stratosphere with WikiGalaxy, a Chrome Experiment that transforms the crowd-created encyclopedia into an interactive space map of articles.
According to Cornec, "The articles are mapped depending on how closely related they are, you can see related articles near by [sic] or hop around by browsing through links." Related articles become clusters of stars, hyperlinks become interstellar pathways, and Wikipedia users and bots can be seen soaring through the simulated space like comets.
Explains Cornec, "I wanted to create something beautiful with technical prowess, using evocative imagery to visualize humanity's collective knowledge. I also wanted to present something people take for granted in a new way. Wikipedia is now making a hard push to get users to donate, but I believe they should do more to present the immense work of their userbase in a more engaging way." The result, which employs HTML5, CS33, WebGL, jQuery, and THREE.js, is a fascinating new way to explore the universe of information at your fingertips.
In the future, Cornec plans to color-code each star according to its "super-category (people, science, history...)" and add Oculus Rift support so you can seach for "deep web" while feeling like you're actually in deep space. Visit Cornec's website to learn more about WikiGalaxy, and try it out for yourself here.