I like following rabbit trails on Wikipedia

brainiac11There is almost nothing more satisfying to me than knowing a little bit about a lot of things. People always use the phrase “inch deep and a mile wide” as if it’s a bad thing. Pffff. Does anyone (who’s cool) really care if you can explain the evolution of Greek theater? The answer is no. But all the cool kids will like you if you throw out the fact that Aeschylus, a Greek playwright, died when an eagle dropped a live tortoise on his head. Do you know anything else about Aeschylus? No. But nobody cares because they all think you’re cool and intellectual now.

With that result in mind, I spend hours of my life following rabbit trails on Wikipedia, arguably the most powerful tool for making yourself seem intelligent since the invention of glasses. Did you know that Eskimos don’t actually have a ton of different words for snow like everyone always says they do? I did. Is that true? Wikipedia says it is. Did you know that one of Nightcrawler’s (from X-Men) powers is to almost disappear when he’s in the shadows? I did. But I wouldn’t have if I didn’t devote time to storing up this mass of random facts.

So how does one get started in the art of random fact retention? Well, here’s a nice little list of great jumping-off points for you to learn all sorts of random things in the wonderful world of Wikipedia. The key here is to find something you’re sort of interested in and then just keep clicking the links you find on that page until you feel like you’ve got enough random facts stored up to sound learned. Also, if you just pronounced the last word in the previous sentence as “lurnd,” then you probably shouldn’t waste your time on Wikipedia; no one will ever think you’re smart.

Godspeed and good hunting.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “I like following rabbit trails on Wikipedia

  1. Ha, that is one of my hobbies too. I used to do it incessantly, though with an increasingly busy schedule I have learned to restrain myself a bit. But I know what you mean—knowing the population of Oulu, Finland; knowing when they started spelling ‘tire’ as ‘tyre’ in the UK; knowing that Parodia buiningii is a species of cactus native to South America—I know these are going to come in handy someday!

  2. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

    I always thought a high school football coach said that, but it turns out it was Seneca, a first century AD Roman philosopher. Either way, harvesting the white fields of Wikipedia is all about preparation for that one chance you get, standing in a party, with a billionaire who says that he’ll give all his money to the first person who can recommend to him a small yellow-flowered cactus native to South America that he can put in his new loft in Buenos Aires. That’s when it pays off.

  3. art

    Chris, you crack me up man. We need to hang out more this semester.

  4. Now mozy on over to Theopedia and you can quit seminary.

  5. Chris, speaking of lists, you might like this site:

    http://listverse.com

  6. Pingback: I like GOOD « What Chris Likes

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