WikiTaxi: Accessing Wikipedia When You’re Offline – Mark Morton

bar_fightTired of not being able to access millions of pages of information while you’re relaxing at the cottage or stricken with insomnia on an eight-hour flight to Istanbul? Frustrated by your inability to settle trivial disputes because the pub where you and your friends are disputing doesn’t have a wireless hotspot? Those pesky scenarios can now be a thing of the past thanks to WikiTaxi, which allows you to download Wikipedia in its entirety — all three million entries — and access them on your laptop, even when the Internet is nowhere to be found.

WikiTaxi is actually a fairly simple (and free) application: its two components are the interface that you use to search for and read the Wikipedia entries, and an importer that allows you to pull in the data file that Wikipedia makes available. That data file is, admittedly, pretty big: 3.5 gigabytes if you want all of the Wikipedia text (minus the images which, if they were to be included, would surely increase the size of the data file by a hundred fold). Still, considering that new laptops now usually come with a hard drive of around 300 gigabytes, Wikipedia will only take up about 1% of your storage space. But if even that is too much, you can forego the full Wikipedia database and instead opt for the streamlined version (a mere 25 megabytes), which includes only the essential articles.

I’ve installed WikiTaxi (and the full Wikipedia database) on my beloved Asus Netbook, and have come to thoroughly enjoy it. In my home’s sunroom — where I spend most of my free time, and which is too far away from my wireless modem to connect to the Internet — I can find and read articles about pretty much anything that my heart desires (including, for example, that the population of Heart’s Desire, Newfoundland, is 226). With tools like this at our fingertips, how is it possible for anyone not to become a polymath?

To download WikiTaxi, and for instructions on how to install it and get the Wikipedia database, simply go the the WikiTaxi site.

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Mark Morton

As Senior Instructional Developer, Mark Morton helps instructors implement new educational technologies such as clickers, wikis, concept mapping tools, question facilitation tools, screencasting, and more. Prior to joining the Centre for Teaching Excellence, Mark taught for twelve years in the English Department at the University of Winnipeg. He received his PhD in 1992 from the University of Toronto, and is the author of four books: Cupboard Love; The End; The Lover's Tongue; and Cooking with Shakespeare.

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