Posts tagged sonet
“I kid you not, statistics is now the sexiest subject on the planet” - Hans Rosling
In this spectacular section of ‘The Joy of Stats’ by BBC, using augmented reality animation, Rolsing tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers - in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.
More incredibly amazing videos by Rosling at GapMinder.
7 July 2005
08.50 London is struck by three bombs.
09.18 (just 28 minutes later) on Wikipedia, the user Morwen creates the page “7 July 2005 London bombings”.
10.38 76 different Wikipedians made 250 edits to this page already, trying to make sense of reality in realtime …
By the end of the day the Wikipedia page “7 July 2005 London bombings” have been edited 2581 times!
The video “History unfolding” shows the evolution in time of the Wikipedia page “7 July 2005 London bombings”. Technically, I extracted from the API all the revisions of the Wikipedia page and I got a screenshot of each of them using Firefox with Page Saver extension running on an X virtual framebuffer (I tried khtml2png but I was unable to install it). Then I put together all the screenshots with mencoder and added the audio.
Wikipedia pages are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The soundtrack I added is Unfinished History by Johaness Gilther, released on Jamendo as Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs. So my video is released under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Enjoy!
The video is just one example of history unfolding under your eyes as it develops, of how people create their collective memories in real time.
We can now investigate how we, as a society, create our world, our perceptions of the past.
Now we can research past, present and future! And control it together!
“Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present, controls the past.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
UPDATE: Dami, in a comment to this post, says “if a word appears in a newer edition of an older work (e.g. in the introduction section of cheap reprints of public domain books) Google will count it as an appearance at the time the original work was published.” I checked and this is true, thanks Dami!
I was playing with Google Books Ngram Viewer, which allows you to check how frequently certain phrases occurred in books published since 1950 up to 2008.
Curiously the following graph reports that some books (only 0.0000011% but greater than zero anyway!) were containing the work “wikipedia” (and “wiki”) already in 1950 and in 1975. Maybe there is a small bug even in mighty google services?
On 17 December 2010 Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit vendor in the central town of Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire in front of a local municipal office. On 25 January 2011 Cairo was shocked by a series of protests against the government. In the following days, the protests quickly spread across the countries and finally led to the departure of the Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from the country on 14 January 2011, and to the resignation of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011. These happenings since their very beginning received an extensive mediatic attention. However, in addition to this they also triggered an intense activity on the related articles on the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia (see for example the articles “2011 Egyptian revolution” and “Tunisian revolution“).
Traumatic events like these are inherently shocking for the involved comunities and involve different layers of the social and cultural tissue. For these reasons they are deeply connected to the formation of the emergent collective memory and collective identity of these communities. The widespread diffusion of Web 2.0 services and technologies and the massive participation to social networking websites provide researchers with new opportunities to study the progressive formation of collective memories about these events since their very beginning.
In fact, since Wikipedia records every edit made to every pages by every user (registered or anonimous), it is now possible to study these memory building processes as they unfold an on a large scale, without going through laboratoy-based experiments and self-reports (which may be biased, especially when it comes to deeply traumatizing events like these).
Few days ago there was an interesting article on NYTimes about the small percentage of women on Wikipedia.
Today on the gendergap mailing list at wikipedia there is a very interesting ongoing discussion. Some preliminary statistics from the discussion are:
|Wikipedia in specific language||Number of users who specified gender in preferences||Percentage of users who specified gender in preferences||How many men||How many women||Percentage of women|
Interesting to note how on Russian Wikipedia, users tend to express their gender much more (16.80%!). Do you have ideas if (1) this is a cultural issue specific of Russians, (2) it depends on the practices of the specific Wikipedia in Russian or (3) it depends on the user interface, for example it might be that when you register you are redirect to an HTML page in which you can specify also your gender?
Also interesting is the fact that in this Wikipedia the percentage of women is the highest (22.78%). Probably the reason is that in a place in which gender is more represented, it is more normal for women to represent it as well. While where gender it is not represent, it is in general foolish for women to explicitly say “Hey, I’m female!” in order not to attract (additional) unwanted messages. Or put in other terms, OMG Girlz Don’t Exist on teh Intarweb!!!!1.
Img by nojhan, under Creative Commons
If we consider Wikipedia as a place where memory is shaped (Pentzold, 2009), we can search for signs of commemoration in the articles and talk pages about traumatic events. For instance, these are some of the messages posted on 11 September 2006 (the fifth anniversary of the attacks) to the “September 11 attacks” talk page:
“Let us pray for the souls of the deceased instead of insulting their memory by not terming those who so cruelly killed thousands of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, as terrorists.” (11:08, 11 September 2006)
“Tonight in Australia is the 5 Year anniversary of the Sep 11 attacks. I lost my mum a few months before Sep 11 to cancer, and I know what grief is like. My prayers are with those who are related/friends with the dead of Sept 11.” (13:34, 11 September 2006)
“[…] my sympathy and prayers to those who mourn this day.” (14:08, 11 September 2006)
“Spare a thought for those whose lives were torn apart that day.” (14:39, 11 September 2006)
These comments represent grief and mourning, and they are meaningful pieces of collective memory building processes related to commemoration. It is also important to note that Wikipedia guidelines explicitly state that talk pages should be used to discuss improvements to the related article pages. However, when articles are about traumatic events that shock a community’s identity, we can find many signs of commemoration occurring around the anniversaries.
This video shows some pieces of comments posted during the fifth anniversary of September 11 attacks and during the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre (occurred on 16 April 2007) on the related talk pages.
Christian Pentzold, in his article “Fixing the floating gap: The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia as a global memory place” (2009), argued that the processes of article construction and discussions in Wikipedia can be seen as part of collective memory building. In particular, these processes can be seen as the passage from communicative memory (interactive, informal, non-specialized, reciprocal, disorganized and unstable) to cultural memory (formal, well organized and objective; Assmann, 1995).
From this point of view, we can see that memories in Wikipedia are formed through social interactions between users, and with the platform. In fact, technologies play a key role in shaping how memory is formed (see for example Bowker, 2005; Van House and Churchill, 2008; Garde-Hanse, Hoskins and Reading 2009).
In Wikipedia, there are a number of policies and guidelines which provide behavioral rules that influence the way articles are written and people interact. One of the most important is the “neutral point of view” (NPOV), which means that articles should be accurate, state verifiable information, provide authoritative references and be written proportionately and without biases. Moreover, since Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, it doesn’t promote original research, advertising, personal opinions and memorials of deceased friends, acquaintances or relatives.
However, we can see that sometimes people make use of Wikipedia articles and talk pages also to express grief and mourning, making Wikipedia an interesting place for the study of memory building processes, possibly allowing for the first time the empirical study on a large scale of collective memory processes.
“[…] the online encyclopaedia is a global memory place where locally disconnected participants can express and debate divergent points of view and that this leads to the formation and ratiﬁcation of shared knowledge that constitutes collective memory.” (Pentzold, 2009, p. 263)