Welcome to What I Learned When I Got Lost on The Internet. It’s the podcast which brings you the feeling of getting sucked down the internet rabbit hole. You know that feeling you get when you click on one link after another and before you know it, you’ve got so many tabs open that Google Chrome has stopped counting because you went past 99, and you have no idea why you’re suddenly signing up for a free trial of Antarctica’s Anglers Anonymous online magazine just so you can read that random hot take on the European Union’s new fisheries policy post Brexit. And most crucially, the sun is setting, and have no idea what you wanted to search for online in the first place. Was is it a stuffed Baby Yoda for a comfort animal or a 48 bundle pack of toilet paper, also I suppose, for comfort.
Some explanation for how the podcast will be doing this. Every day, Wikipedia has a daily featured article, which is basically a page that the online encyclopedia’s editors feel represent the best it has to offer. They’re usually well sourced, written, and adhere to the guidelines on accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style. What they’re saying is if, to pick a random example, you copy and paste the featured article on say Wage reform in the Soviet Union, 1956–1962, for your economics or history lesson, your lecturer or professor will know that it’s too perfect to be your own work, and you will get done for plagiarism.
WILWIGLITI — the second W is silent — will connect one daily featured article to the next day’s using a web app called Six Degrees of Wikipedia, created and maintained by Jacob Wenger, a veritable computer whiz. You can try it yourself, go to sixdegreesofwikipedia.com and put in two different Wikipedia entries, and click Go! Jacob’s wonderful programme shows you all the ways that those two topics are connected. I’ll give you two examples. On the 31st of March 2020, the featured article was the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement and on April the 1st, it was an article on the German battleship, the Tirpitz. Six Degrees can connect both articles in 173 different paths and with just three degrees of separation.
The podcast will focus on one of those pathways, telling you about the individual stops on the path in an informative, and hopefully entertaining manner. So in the example I’ve just given, The MDA was signed between the UK and the US, which had its roots in agreements both countries signed during World World 2. Prior to the war, Germany and Britain were signed up to the the Anglo German naval agreement, which Hitler withdrew from and launched his massive battleship, the Tirpitz.
The next day, the podcast will connect Tirpitz, from the previous day, to Hathor, from the 2nd of April, live, die, repeat. While Wikipedia will be the basis of the connections, the facts referred to and proffered during this glorious podcast would’ve been checked and sourced by our backroom research staff of one. Alles kla? Tout est claire? Does that make sense?
I’ll try not to make them long, no more than five minutes perhaps. I don’t want them taking up too much of your day. Because, you know, this isn’t War and Peace on Radio 4, you also have that Joe Rogan back catalogue to get through, and your six month stack of the Economist is just begging to be unwrapped.
And that ladies, gentlemen, and all in between is the sum total of What I Learned When I Got Lost ithe Internet. Welcome.