Internet Geographer


Posts tagged UK
Controversy in Wikipedia in the UK and Ireland

Following up on the previous post on controversy in Wikipedia in Australia (and the original post on the geography of controversy in Wikipedia), I wanted to switch hemispheres.

The map below illustrate controversy in Wikipedia in the UK in Ireland:

Excluding country names (which all have a lot of controversy, but can’t be easily plotted on a point map), the top ten most controversial articles in the UK and Ireland are:

1) Birmingham
2) Principality of Sealand
3) Blackburn Rovers F.C.
4) London
5) St Christopher Iba Mar Diop College of Medicine
6) Cardiff Airport
7) Manchester
8) Cardiff
9) Strabane
10) Cornwall

As we saw in the Australian example, some of these places likely pop up simply because they are large, high-traffic, articles. It is notable, however, that all of the Scottish urban centres (Glasgow and Edinburgh in particular) seem to be relatively controversy free.

Basically, we’re seeing some unexpected findings about what Wikipedia editors in the UK feel worth fighting about: which is a trend that I’ve long noticed in the encyclopaedia. That is, seemingly mundane and everyday topics can sometimes generate much more attention and argument than the things, processes and places that you might expect people to be fighting about.
Wikipedia in the UK
After a lot of data cleaning and number crunching, here are three maps of the geographies of Wikipedia in the UK using brand new November 2010 data. Looking at the first map (total number of articles in each district), we see some interesting patterns. With a few exceptions, it is rural districts in Scotland, Wales and the North of England that are characterised by the highest density of articles.

What we’re likely picking up on is that fact that large districts simply have more potential stuff to write about. If we normalise the map by area we see an entirely different pattern. The map below displays the number of articles per square KM.

We see that most of the large urban conurbations in the UK are covered by a dense layer of articles. Most sparsely populated areas in contrast have a much thinner layer of virtual representation in Wikipedia. There are, however, some notable exceptions. Parts of Cornwall, Somerset and the Isle of Wight all have a denser layer of content than might be expected for such relatively rural parts of the country. One might expect a higher density in the districts surrounding Belfast (in fact almost all of Northern Ireland is characterised by very low levels of content per square KM).

Finally, we can look a the number of articles per person in each district:

Here some more surprising results are visible. All major urban areas have relatively low counts of article per person (with the exception of central London). In contrast, many rural areas (particularly areas containing national parks) have high counts per person.

There are obviously a range of ways to measure the geographies of Wikipedia in the UK. We see that some areas are blanketed by a highly dense layer of virtual content (e.g. central London and many of the UK’s other major conurbations). These maps also highlight the fact that some parts of the UK are characterised by a paucity of content irrespective of the ways in which the data are normalised. Northern Ireland in particular stands out in this respect.

I’ll attempt to upload similar analyses of other countries in the next few months. In the meantime, however, please offer thoughts on these maps either below or on the cross post at the Floatingsheep blog.

p.s. many thanks to Adham Tamer for his help with the data extraction.
Cognitive Surplus and the Levelling Effects of the Internet in the Connected Kingdom

I just got back from a meeting at Google, London on “Expanding the Connected Kingdom: policies and strategies for stimulating the UK Internet economy.” The meeting aimed to draw on the recent Connected Kingdom report in order to come up with useful policy recommendations.

My short position paper is titled “Cognitive Surplus and the Levelling Effects of the Internet in the Connected Kingdom” and is available at the following link.