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Idil Keysan illustrates Wikipedia, “the brain of the world,” in a set of gifs

Idil Keysan is a Turkish artist and illustrator known for her playful and relatable animated work on Giphy, the GIF-hosting platform. Idil’s keen understanding of what’s trending and how audiences interact with gifs have helped her work get over two billion views on the website. Her fun, charming, brightly colored illustrations are inspired by “famous art, daily events, and the subjects that [she] cares about, like animal rights [and the] representation of the female body.”

One place you may have seen her work recently was on Wikipedia’s Instagram account, where we published the poster she designed in response to the Turkish government’s decision to block Wikipedia.

With the success of that project, we decided to partner with Idil again to find out how she would visualize Wikipedia and the world’s knowledge as a set of GIFs. In her words, Idil created 25 GIFs that visualize “the culture, knowledge, and [communities] around the world,” as it’s the world that “create[s] Wikipedia’s content.” The set includes images related to science, art, nature, pop culture, and a character we’re calling “brainy.”

Millions of people searched for tags like studying, learning, and information before using one of her Wikipedia-inspired GIFs. The GIFs were released in May and were viewed over 4 million times in the first day. Since their release, they have been served over three hundred million times.

You can find the gifs on Giphy, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat by searching #Wikipedia. The gifs are also available on our IOS app.

• • •

I asked Idil about her life, her work, and the value of free knowledge. Here’s what she responded with.

When did you first hear about Wikipedia?

It’s impossible to remember but it should be when I was a little kid, sitting in front of a huge computer screen, searching for something on the web. So old.

Why did you decide to work with us on a project to visualize Wikipedia? 

I should ask this to you! When Wikipedia was shut down in Turkey, and [nearly] nobody except Wikipedia really cared about it, the idea stunned me and I felt obliged to do something for Wikipedia. That was a great opportunity to pay back and support this bond. I’m so grateful for that.

What does Wikipedia mean to you?

I think that Wikipedia is a collective consciousness that has been created by people living in the world. As the world gets older, it extends its boundaries. Wikipedia is like the brain of the world, you can always rely on its neutrality. It can be accessed everywhere, with a few exceptions including Turkey, because it’s free, global and practical.

What is your favorite GIF in the collection?

My favorite GIF is the brain character eating books. I think it reflects the idea behind Wikipedia the most. My other favorite is the rabbit hole metaphor, which shows how you disappear for hours between articles on Wikipedia.

• • •

Keysan, along with millions of other people in Turkey, has been blocked from accessing Wikipedia—but her illustrations about free knowledge found their way to several millions of people from every part of the world.

Blanca Flores, Junior Designer, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

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Photo credits

Idil Keysan blog header

Idil Keysan/Wikimedia Foundation

CC BY-SA 4.0

Wikipedia GIFs

Idil Keysan/Wikimedia Foundation

CC BY-SA 4.0

Idil Keysan GIFs viewcount

Idil Keysan/Wikimedia Foundation

CC BY-SA 4.0

The doors of knowledge - Redness Design (1)

Jose Sender

CC BY-SA 4.0

Heart arrow

Unknown via Pxhere

CC0

Atmos n Environ XII

Sculpture by Louise Nevelson; photo by Smallbones

Public domain