December 10, 2014 weblog
WikiGalaxy turns Wikipedia into a galaxy of stars
Owen Cornec, an engineering student studying in Paris, has released a web browser application called WikiGalaxy that gives using Wikipedia a whole new spin. He's used a star/galaxy based analog as a basis for the user interface that transforms the mostly text based application to a modern gee-whiz, attention grabbing application that most anyone will find both interesting and fun.
Wikipedia, for those not paying attention, is a web based encyclopedia compiled by average users the world over. It's free (under a Creative Commons Licensing agreement) to use and has become a standard go-to platform for conducting informal research queries. It's able to continue operating via donations to the Wikimedia Foundation. Users are encouraged to donate to keep the articles coming. One criticism of the site has been its user interface. Compared to other interactive media, the site looks pretty drab—pages are mostly text with the occasional photo plastered to the side. Very seldom is there any animation or sound, or anything else to make the material more palatable. Cornec hopes to change that with his new approach.
The idea with WIkiGalaxy is that each Wikipedia article corresponds to a single star, and multiple articles that relate to one another exist as star clusters. Clicking on a star causes the related article to appear on the left side of the screen—another panel loads on the right side of the screen showing related links. You can also browse the 100,000 articles that Cornec has input into his demo by activating "fly mode"—a click will send the user zooming through the virtual galaxy. The application also has a normal search box for performing mundane searches the old fashioned way.
On his site, Cornec says he created the application in his spare time, and is apparently using it to source job opportunities in the U.S. after he completes coursework for his Masters. He adds that he plans to continue working on WikiGalaxy—his next project is to color code stars based on major categories.
NOTE: WikiGalaxy is highly processor intensive which means it may give some users trouble getting it to load and run.
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