The beauty of Wikipedia is that it exists online, right? That it can be edited by anybody and it's run by a virtual team of volunteers. Partly. The other half of its appeal is the sheer scale of the online encyclopedia: "The English Wikipedia alone has over 2.6 billion words, over 100 times as many as the next largest English-language encyclopedia, Encyclopædia Britannica," says (funnily enough) the Wikipedia article on the subject of encylopedic size-comparison. That's a lot of words.

So what possessed artist Michael Mandiberg to print it all out and create a physical edition of Wikipedia? Yes, he really has, and it took him three years. Suitably titled "Print Wikipedia", the project, 7,600-volume version of the online encylopedia (just a smigen of which is pictured above), was completed as a "poetic gesture towards the futility of the scale of big data." I'm not entirely sure what the futility of big data is – that it could all be lost online? That nobody could ever hope to read all of it?

Fun fact: 91 of the 7,600 volumes are just a table of contents; 36 lists every single one of the site's 7.5 million contributors.

The process involved Mandiberg writing software that would convert Wikipedia's 11.5 million entries into a print-friendly format. It's been done ahead of an exhibition, "From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!", where the 11GB compressed file will be uploaded to print-on-demand site Lulu.com, which is estimated to take 2 weeks. The exhibition will then close with the 7,600-volume piece of art on offer $500,000. I'd get it maybe if it were like 100,000 times cheaper.