The English version of Wikipedia of has more than four million articles, or 2.5 billion words—50 times the number of words in the next-largest English encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Brittanica, according to Wikipedia. And in all 271 languages combined, the online encyclopedia holds some 23.6 million entries.
Many of those articles are about places and people and events in human history, and some—at least four million—are tagged with the geographical coordinates of those places, people and events. Now, thanks to this awesome interactive map, you can explore the world's collection of digital knowledge one place at a time.
Several patterns jump out immediately when you load the English Wikipedia map. Some have obvious explanations. There are bright spots in many big cities. The area around Chicago is outlined in a near-perfect grid; from there, dotted lines follow the branching westward paths of interstate highways, and the towns built along them.
But the patterns also raise questions: Why, on a global scale, do the entries cluster the way they do? (The map reminded us of a world map of a electrification. Click here to see a comparison.) And what are the little points in the middle of the ocean about? (To find out, you can click on them for a link to the corresponding Wikipedia article.)
The interactive map allows you to plot Wikipedia posts in 12 languages, and the non-English language maps are at least as intriguing as the English one. One particularly perplexing element is the map of U.S.-geotagged articles in Catalan:
It appears that the people of Catalonia have catalogued quite a bit of the contiguous 48 states. But not all of it--something's missing. For comparison, here's the U.S.-geotagged map of English articles:
The dots get a little sparse around Nevada but, as a former Michigander, I'm more trouble by the utter exclusion of the mitten state. Such thorough coverage of Ohio—Ohio!—and then, north of that, nothing. Why have the Catalan people missed Michigan, the great Great Lakes state?
If you have an answer, please share it with us. Let us know what else you find out, too!
The understanding of an animal’s social behavior helps in better control and corralling of said animal. At least this is one use of such social data bases as well as other possible good uses.
The pictures are pretty! ;)
Why is Poland so bright?
ha estonia is visibly a bright spot in europe (NA eu) regardless of its small size 44k km2
How is this not hard to answer? They are the locations with the most dense populations over time. That's why it looks similar to the electric grid. The denser the population of a location the more likely a notable event or object of remark would be tagged there. It's simply a numbers game based on history. A lot of people live in New York and Chicago and have done so for a long time. It only makes sense that more items of note occurred in those locations rather than in the desert mountains of Nevada.
Lest I forget, the locations with electricity and internet are also more likely to have someone there to tag them as well.