New influence graph visualizations; NPOV and history; ‘low-hanging fruit’
Wikipedia-based graphs visualize influences between thinkers, writers and musicians
In a blog post titled “Graphing the history of philosophy”, Simon Raper of the company MindShare UK describes how he constructed an influence graph of all philosophers using the “Influenced by” and “Influenced” fields of Template:Infobox philosopher (example: Plato). This information was retrieved using DBpedia with a simple SPARQL query. After some cleanup, the result, consisting of triplets in the form <Philosopher A, Philosopher B, Weight> was processed using the open source graph visualization package Gephi to create an impressive overview of the philosophers within their respective spheres of influence.
Brendan Griffen extended the idea to “everyone on Wikipedia. Well, everyone with an infobox containing ‘influences’ and/or ‘influenced by’”, arriving at a huge, far more dense “Graph Of Ideas” including not only philosophers, but also novelists, fantasy and science fiction writers, and comedians. In another blog post, Griffen added transitive links as well – so that each person is considered to be influenced both directly and indirectly. The most connected people in the graph were ancient Greek thinkers, with Thales, Pythagoras and Zeno of Elea occupying the top three spots. Griffen remarks that this vindicates a statement in Bertrand Russell‘s History of Western Philosophy (1945): “Western Philosophy begins With Thales”.