The Depths of Wikipedia creator on finding the goofy corners of the web
Here at Mozilla, we are the first to admit the internet isn’t perfect, but we are also quick to point out that the internet is pretty darn magical. The internet opens up doors and opportunities, allows for people to connect with others, and lets everyone find where they belong — their corners of the internet. We all have an internet story worth sharing. In My Corner Of The Internet, we talk with people about the online spaces they can’t get enough of, what we should save in Pocket to read later, and what sites and forums shaped them.
This month we chat with Annie Rauwerda, the woman behind Depths of Wikipedia, which highlights weird and unexpected entries from the online encyclopedia. The project started as an Instagram account and has since expanded to Twitter, TikTok and a live comedy show. We talk to her about her obsession with memes, editing Wikipedia pages and finding the goofy corners of the internet.
What is your favorite corner of the internet?
I really like goofy corners of the web, like this archive of computer mice and this archive of rotating food. I love Discord so much. I love Twitter most of the time. And I love Wikipedia, particularly the timeline of the far future.
What is an internet deep dive that you can’t wait to jump back into?
I’m obsessed with finding the origin of meme images. I recently tracked down the hot pink bitch named Breakfast and the Wikipedia high five couple. I spend a lot of time on the lost media subreddit.
What is the one tab you always regret closing?
I edit Wikipedia a lot, and occasionally I come across a guideline or gadget that’s super helpful but hard to find (Wikipedia’s guidelines are a total labyrinth). Thank god for command + shift + t!!
What can you not stop talking about on the internet right now?
I’ve been really into crossword construction! And making silly Venn diagrams!
What was the first online community you engaged with?
When I was in elementary school, my dad quit his job to be a stay-at-home parent and started pouring tons of energy into being the coolest dad ever. I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where there’s a ton of show in the winter, and he would make massive snow castles. It was right as YouTube was getting big, and he posted a video of the fort. We got comments from people around the world. It was so cool!
What articles and videos are in your Pocket waiting to be read/watched right now?
I love all the features in Quanta. And I’ve been meaning to finish The Curse of Xanadu in Wired from 1995.
If you could create your own corner of the internet, what would it look like?
You know how people create extensive, time-intensive projects dedicated to random things like bread tags or candy cross-sections or notes left in library books or etymology? Probably something like that. I love archives, especially silly archives!
Wikipedia turned 22 this year. What about it keeps contributors like you so dedicated to editing and maintaining its pages?
There are a lot of canned answers I could give about a shared commitment to free knowledge, and I’m sure that’s part of it, but the real reason I edit is that it’s pretty fun. You get addicted.
Annie Rauwerda has been running Depths of Wikipedia since March 2020, when she started it as a sophomore at the University of Michigan. She’s also a writer whose work has appeared in Input Magazine and Slate.