Jon Udell has just released a ‘screencast’ (a Flash-based movie recorded from his desktop while he talks) discussing the evolution of a Wikipedia article on the origin of the umlaut popular with the heavy metal set:
It’s a wonderfully silly topic, but my point is somewhat serious too. The 8.5-minute screencast turns the change history of this Wiki page into a movie, scrolls forward and backward along the timeline of the document, and follows the development of several motifs. Creating this animated narration of a document’s evolution was technically challenging, but I think it suggests interesting possibilities.
It’s a nifty, eight-and-a-half minute movie which does an exceptional job of articulating the many-to-many power of Wikipedia. I truly think we may look back on Wikipedia as one of the great collective projects of the 21st (and a bit of the 20th) century. It is, for all intents and purposes, our Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Mind you, the entries are less opinionated than that fine travel book.
I’ve talked to non-geeks about Wikipedia and they (particularly those in academia) just don’t get it. Now I’ll show them this movie, and things ought to become clearer.