Wikimedia Data Analyst Erik Zachte recently unveiled a new interactive visualization showing the global distribution of edits for various language editions of Wikipedia.

The animation shows a global map of edits made on May 10, 2011.

The animation shows a global map of edits made on May 10, 2011.

This first version allows users to see where edits are coming from for a given day. Right now, the day is fixed but fairly recent.

You can control the parameters of this interactive visualization by using keyboard shortcuts available in a “Help” menu (press ‘H’). For example, ‘E’ switches between different event markers.

Hit 'E' to switch between different styles of event markers. Here, language codes are shown instead of bubbles.

Hit ‘M’ to switch to a black background, and ‘E’ to switch between different styles of event markers. Here, language codes are shown instead of bubbles.

The data behind these graphics comes from our Squid logs, that usually record about 400,000 edits a day. See Erik’s post to read more about how the visualizations were made.

By zooming on a particular area (‘+’ or mouse scroll), or filtering the edits by language (‘N’ or space bar), interesting things can surface. For example, bubble maps and heat maps reflect densely populated areas with easy Internet access.

Hit 'M' to switch to a black background, and 'N' or the Space bar to display a specific language. Here, edits to the English Wikipedia are shown on a bubble map ('2').

Hit ‘N’ or the Space bar to display a specific language. Here, edits to the English Wikipedia are shown on a bubble map (‘2’).

Three types of displays are available, all showing the spatial distribution of edits over time in a different way: an accelerated animation of edits over a day (‘1’), a bubble map of the same edits over a day (‘2’), and a heat map of edits over a day (‘3’).

The animation over the course of the day also shows the levels of activity depending on the time it is in various timezones. Compare for example the activity of the Spanish Wikipedia in Spain and Latin America over the course of the day.

Hit '3' to switch to the heat map of edits combined on a single day. This heat map shows edits to the Spanish Wikipedia, mostly distributed in Spain and Latin America.

Hit ‘3’ to switch to the heat map of edits combined on a single day. This heat map shows edits to the Spanish Wikipedia, mostly distributed in Spain and Latin America.

Similarly, the map shows that most edits to the Chinese Wikipedia are made from outside of mainland China (Hong Kong and Taiwan):

Zoom in using the + key, or the mouse scroll.

Zoom in using the + key, or the mouse scroll.

Open the visualization and play with it yourself!

In the tradition of free software that Wikimedia is attached to, this visualization was entirely created using HTML5 (canvas) and JavaScript, and no proprietary tool is necessary to view the animation.

The visualization works in the most recent browsers. If for some reason it doesn’t work for you, below is a short video to give you an overview of what it looks like when animated.

The video is also available on Wikimedia Commons, along with more screenshots.


Guillaume Paumier