Feb 25, 2010

Random Wikiness

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When I am looking for inspiration in my writing - or during those moments when I am utterly and completely bored beyond redemption - I visit Wikipedia and use the Random Article function. Located on the left sidebar of the main Wikipedia page, a click on the Random Article link is a journey into the millions of always-evolving Wiki articles that Wikipedians have created and edited.

I first visited via the Random Article a page dedicated to birds of the family Columbidae. The most common of these near passerine birds in the Columbidae family show no obvious links with other bird families, and their closest relatives are likely the extinct dodo and the Rodrigues Solitaire.

I next learned about Đà Lạt, a city of approximately 120,000 people that is the capital of Lâm Đồng Province in Vietnam. Đà Lạt is noted for its nearby pine woods, which are the basis for the translation of its name: "City of thousands of pine trees." Đà Lạt was also the capital of the Japanese puppet state known as the Federation of Indochina from 1939 to 1945 during the Second World War.

My next click took me to a page discussing American geologist, mountaineer, and art critic Clarence King, who lived from 1842-1901. I vaguely remember reading about King in a book by Aaron Sachs entitled The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism. King was most noteworthy in his role as the first director of the United States Geological Survey and for his exploration of the mountain range Sierra Nevada. He published one of his most famous works in 1872, giving it the unassuming title of Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada.

I ended my session of Wiki-surfing by reading a page about Grlevelx, which is a data processing and display program for weather radar data developed by Gibson Ridge Software, LLC. The principal users of Grlevelx are meteorological professionals outside the National Weather Service who employ the software for precipitation analysis, tornado detection, and hurricane strength. That being said, the company's website posts list pricing for GRLevel2 and GRLevel3 each at a reasonable $79.95, making their software affordable to true weather geeks like me. Even the cost and licensing for the high-end GRLevel2 Analyst Edition is only a few hundred bucks, and you could outfit quite a weather-chasing gig with this software.

Thus ends another expedition in Random Wikiness. I heartily recommend this feature for folks who are bored with the usual Facebook and Twitter silliness, and who seek a Web-surfing experience that is as edifying as it is entertaining.

3 comments:

LTLOP said...

Might I also recommend Stumbleupon.com ? I found many interesting a tidbit as well as quite entertaining. Many times it will take you to wikipedia as well.

Paul Swendson said...

Those are some truly random articles. The internet is a beautiful thing. The only problem I have is trying to pull myself away from it. Which reminds me. I better go eat now.

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