Collaborative Visualizations for Wikipedia Critique and Activism (new publication)

ArzuKathryn, Scott, Ralph, and I wrote a short extended abstract for the workshop Wikipedia, a Social Pedia: Research Challenges and Opportunities  at ICWSM 2015, presenting the idea of using collaborative visualizations as a tool for Wikipedia editors to collaboratively analyse Wikipedia content through visuals.

In other words, we argue that collaborative visualizations can provide Wikipedia editors the opportunity  to reflect, discuss, and edit a common visual representation of Wikipedia content, in the same way that editors can discuss and collaboratively edit the content of individual Wikipedia articles today. Collaborative visualizations would therefore support a process of asynchronous, distributed, collaborative sensemaking of entire parts of Wikipedia, in addition to the sensemaking that already occurs on the level of single articles.

Collaborative visualizations for Wikipedia--Fig1--Wikipedia_Oxford_graph

Illustrative example of usage of a network diagram to illustrate interlanguage links on Wikipedia.


Wikipedia is one of the largest platforms based on the concept of asynchronous, distributed, collaborative work. A systematic collaborative exploration and assessment of Wikipedia content and coverage is however still largely missing. On the one hand editors routinely perform quality and coverage control of individual articles, while on the other hand academic research on Wikipedia is mostly focused on global issues, and only sporadically on local assessment. In this paper, we argue that collaborative visualizations have the potential to fill this gap, affording editors to collaboratively explore and analyse patterns in Wikipedia content, at different scales. We illustrate how a collaborative visualization service can be an effective tool for editors to create, edit, and discuss public visualizations of Wikipedia data. Combined with the large Wikipedia user-base, and its diverse local knowledge, this could result in a large-scale collection of evidence for critique and activism, and the potential to enhance the quantity and quality of Wikipedia content.

De Sabbata, S.; Çöltekin, A.; Eccles, K.; Hale, S.; Straumann, R. 2015. Collaborative Visualizations for Wikipedia Critique and Activism. In Proceedings of ICWSM. AAAI. (forthcoming)

Vili Lehdonvirta

Vili Lehdonvirta is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is an economic sociologist with a background in computer science.