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World's first 'Wikipedia town' covered in QR codes

The small Welsh town of Monmouth is on track to install 1,000 real-world QR code plaques linking back to Wikipedia articles.

Shire Hall QR code
Scan this QR code and you'll discover Shire Hall was used as a location for the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special. Wikimedia Commons/Monmouthshire County Council

The Internet continues to escape from its virtual confines. Clothing hangers hook into Facebook. Twitter comes printed on toilet paper. And now, Wikipedia has its own town.

Monmouth in South Wales has a population of less than 9,000, but plenty of tourists come to see the local castle and walk the historic streets. Those tourists will be able to plug into Wikipedia articles about the town through special QR code plaques placed in strategic locations.

River Wye QR code
The River Wye has its own QR code. (Click to enlarge.) Wikimedia Commons/Mrjohncummings

The project is turning Monmouth into Monmouthpedia. So far, the joint effort between Wikimedia UK and the Monmouthshire County Council includes 712 articles in 25 different languages with more than a thousand new photos. There are even 53 new articles in Esperanto.

Monmouthpedia's goal was to have 1,000 QR code plaques spread throughout the town by May 19 and the town's still working to reach it. A visitor just scans the code to get a quick link to the information online. Part of the project involves installing free town-wide Wi-Fi to make the articles even more accessible.

Many of the plaques link to history articles delving into subjects like the River Wye and Shire Hall, a building dating from 1724. There are also plans to connect to subjects that aren't specific to Monmouth, like flora and fauna. It may not be long before every dog and cat in town is sporting QR code collars linking to Wikipedia species articles.

Monmouthpedia is the modern answer to those stuffy brass plaques that declare, "On this spot in 1711, something historical happened."

You don't even have to be there to enjoy the fruits of all this Wiki labor. Thanks to the Monmouth project, I now know that three Chartists were hanged, drawn, and quartered in the town in 1840.

I also just learned that Captain Walker of the HMS Monmouth told his crew to wash "the stain off your characters in the blood of your foes." Thank you, Monmouthpedia, for making history come alive, one QR code at a time.

(Via CBS News)