Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
The map offers a nifty live survey of people's utterly random interests (or perceived areas of expertise).
In the last 35 seconds, as of this writing, someone in Gambier, Ohio, updated the Wikipedia page about Erykah Badu. Someone in Rostov, Russia changed the page for the movie Django Unchained, and someone in San Francisco had something to say about the Maserati Ghibli III, an as-yet-nonexistent car expected to be unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2014.
Also imperceptibly modified in this same sliver of cyber-time: John Dillinger's profile, Wikipedia's "List of fictional robots and androids," and a page on the Middlesbrough Football Club, known, of course, as Boro for short by fans of the English Football League Championship.
The edits come so quickly from across the globe that you'd best screen-grab this addicting live Wikipedia Recent Changes Map if you want to keep track of them. Here, we have just a sampling of 867 edits to the English-language version of the crowdsourced encyclopedia of absolutely everything, logged within 35 seconds:
The site was built by Stephen LaPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi, using the IP addresses of unregistered contributors to Wikipedia. Registered users don't leave a similar geographic fingerprint, so this tsunami of edits actually represents just a small portion of all of the people fiddling with Wikipedia at any given moment. Unregistered users make about 20 percent of the edits to English Wikipedia, although, as LaPorte and Hashemi write:
“A survey in 2007 indicated that unregistered users are less likely to make productive edits to the encyclopedia.”
The map offers a nifty live survey of people's utterly random interests (or perceived areas of expertise), and it also visualizes a phenomenon we've written about before: The geography of who's editing Wikipedia often has very little to do with the geography of the subject matter itself.