My colleague, Joseph Reagle, recently posted online on of the earliest snapshots of Wikipedia: the encyclopedia after its first ten thousand edits. (It's available online at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/~reagle/wp-redux/.) The 2,393 articles in this early Wikipedia range from "A Priori And A Posterior Knowledge" to "Zeus." 365 (15%!) of the articles addressed aspects of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, while 56 covered the United States and its Constitution. The article on Patti Smith's album Horses is longer than the entry on Paris, and the overall picture of topical coverage is similar to that of the bookshelves of a geek-inhabited college dorm room.
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. From its idiosyncratic origins, Wikipedia has grown into a remarkably complete, authoritative and useful resource, dominating the reference space and serving as the first response to many online queries. It's the 5th most visited site on the Internet and the most visited non-commercial site. It's an incredible resource for those who would remix, translate, extend and otherwise build on its open intellectual property, like the government of Thailand, which recently launched a project to translate the English Wikipedia into Thai via machine translation and human proofreading.