Summary: Indulge your curiosity together by wandering Wikipedia and reading interesting things. 

Tags: Medium, Repeatable, Experimental

Purpose: Learn something new in a group. You don’t need to learn it deeply; in the same way that it can be fun to point at a cool flower and say “hey, come take a look at this!” it’s fun to point at a neat bit of trivia and say “hey, did you know that?”

Materials: You need at least one device that can browse the web. It’s very helpful to connect that device to a big screen everyone can see, like a projector or a big TV. In some variations, people will want their own internet capable devices like a smartphone.

Announcement Text: "Have you ever gotten lost in Wikipedia? One question leads to another, and there’s always another blue link you haven’t checked out yet. While this is fun, the first thing I usually want to do after spending a few hours learning new things is tell someone else. Why not skip that interim step of looking for someone to talk to about what I just learned and learn with a friend?

We’ll have a main screen we can all read, and we’ll take a walk around the internet together. Come looking to get curious about the world."

Description: Make sure everyone can see the main screen. Browse to Wikipedia. Then moderate the main screen, scrolling down at a regular pace and taking feedback for where to go next.

Suggested hand gestures are waving down when someone is ready to scroll downward, a flat palm when they want you to stop, and raising a hand when someone has a suggestion for a link to click. Depending on the size of your group this may likely be totally unnecessary and people can just call out what they want.

Variations: You can vary how directed a wiki walk is meant to be. On the one extreme, you might do what I call a Wiki Race and try to get from a specific start point (“Japan”) to a specific end point (“St. Bernard”) in as little time and as few link clicks as possible. On the other end of the spectrum, you can just start with the Wikipedia homepage and ask people what looks interesting. The middle ground I like is having a target we’re trying to walk towards, but not taking that target too seriously and eagerly diverting after distractions.

You can vary how grouped up everyone should be. On one extreme, everyone can have their own laptops or smartphones and wander in entirely separate directions. On the other end of the spectrum, the group can all refrain from using individual devices so everyone just reads from the big screen. The middle ground I like is letting people take one “step” away from the main screen, clicking one link from that main page if they want but catching back up to the group when they’re done reading that page.

Notes: People have different reading speeds and will want to scroll or advance to new pages at different rates. It’s a bit like taking a walk in a park and noticing people walk at different speeds, and the solutions are similar. Letting people use their own devices to take a step away from the group is one, like letting people wander off and come back. Another is to let them chatter and talk to each other. Both work fine; ideally people are talking to each other anyway. You don’t even need everyone to read everything directly if people are happy just hanging out and hearing what the page says second hand from conversation. 

There are a few different ways to decide which page to go to next. I suggest doing a quick vote; “Any suggestions for where we go next? Okay, those are three options. Everyone raise your hand if X sounds good. Raise your hand if Y sounds good. Raise your hand if Z sounds good. Cool, looks like there are the most votes for Y, we’ll do that.” Other options include taking turns, starting the event by giving everyone tokens to bid with, or just going with whoever sounds the most excited. You could also start with a route planned, like having a path planned when going for a walk. 

I do think Wikipedia is unusually well suited for this. Fandom wikis aren’t always as well filled out. Even if your group is full of Star Wars fans, doing a Wookiepedia Walk loses a connection to the real world that I like to have in a rationalist event. Youtube Watch Parties are another superficially similar thing that I also don’t suggest as they’re too passive; ideally you want everyone to be interested and engaged. A LessWrong variation is tempting, but I don’t think the average article on LessWrong interlinks enough to reliably have multiple places to wander. Too much risk of just reading a sequence in order, which is unlikely to hit on the notes of curiosity a Wiki Walk is aimed at awakening.

Whoever is running the big screen might want to clear their browser history before starting. It makes it easier to spot places you’ve already been so you can always point towards something new. Also because life sometimes imitates xkcd.

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