Exploring collective attentions

Humanities and Social Sciences are not immune to the intense dynamics of digitization of data, their analysis and the means of their transmission. The tracking of social practices is also an opportunity to better understand the powerful social, economic and political change that has taken place in recent years. In order to contribute to the enhancement and clarification of this issue for humanities and social sciences, we propose to focus on one of its most emblematic demonstrations, in addition to being one of the most visited Internet sites: Wikipedia.
This exploratory project aims to extend the initiatives that have contributed to making Wikipedia more accessible and intelligible, by simplifying the exploitation of its potential. In particular, this project focuses on valuing the traces of the consultation of the pages, as so many elementary acts that involve collective attention and inform us of what matters. More specifically, by considering languages, time and space, it is thus possible to better characterize regimes of attention and the relative globality of social facts (attacks, elections, conspiracy theories, controversies, sports or cultural events...).

Time

10 years of data
3650 days

Languages

10 editions of Wikipedia
English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, Russian 

Spatial

All the World
Local to Global
2.526.139 pages

Details

Precision up to just 10 views per year.

From a global view to a highly local view

Language

On a global scale, the uneven distribution of attention across languages is particularly striking. English is by far the language that attracts the most widespread attention, albeit concentrated in English-speaking countries, including India. Spanish, because of its wide spatial distribution in Latin America, is also spread well beyond Spain. French, on the other hand, although widely spoken in Africa, is much less widespread, as Internet penetration is very low in most of the countries concerned. For all other languages, attention is almost exclusively concentrated within the areas corresponding to the linguistic area of the edition being considered.
Mandarin is an exception, since Wikipedia is used marginally in China. It is therefore the most westernised part that appears (Hong Kong and Taiwan).
Finally, there are spaces that stand out in all languages. These are essentially the most globalised metropolitan areas and the most touristic places.

Zoom

WikiMaps allows to zoom on any part of the world. It is thus possible to observe more precisely phenomena relating to a particular edition of Wikipedia (language) and to identify many details, revealing a very clear hierarchy within each space belonging to a particular linguistic area.

Time

WikiMaps allows you to select any part of the world and identify the places that arouse the greatest interest.
Selecting a location activates a dashbord. It presents on the left the list of the 50 most attractive places, on the right an automatic description of the most attractive page, as well as the evolution of its daily consultations during the year considered at the bottom.
Once the dashboard is activated, it is possible to select any of the locations and compare the evolution of its consultations (in yellow) with that of the entire area considered (in blue).
The plurality of phenomena that attract collective attention are thus clearly perceptible, with a precision difficult to observe by other means. It appears that attacks, cultural and sporting events and broadcasts constitute the main part of identifiable events.

Distribution

The distribution of consultations is particularly concentrated: very few pages receiving practically all the attention. A logorithmic scale helps to identify two distinct sets: the rare pages that attract most of the collective attention and the rare pages, often newly created, that receive almost no interest.

Interaction

Wikimaps allows you to explore the world at all scales, in the ten main editions (languages) of Wikipedia and over the last ten years.
For a particular language and year, it is possible to have the list of the most consulted places and to visualize the daily evolution of the interest that they aroused.

The prototype has a dynamic mode which allows to visualize the evolution of the attention in the whole world in a particular edition.

Developped

with passion by

Boris Beaude

 UNIL

Project coordinator
Concept  / Visualisation / Web development


Ogier Maitre

 EPFL

Web development (lead)
Back-end / Visualisation / Many creative ideas


The team is growing

The prototype of WikiMaps will be joined in the near future by Nicolas Baya-Laffite (UNIL)
and other people to develop new features and make it accessible to a wider public.