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Collective intelligence

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Original author: 
Megan Geuss

A website built by two programmers, Stephen LaPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi, displays recent changes to Wikipedia in real-time on a map of the world. When a new change is saved to the crowd-sourced encyclopedia, the title of the edited article shows up on the map with the editor's location according to his or her IP address.

Not all recent changes are counted, however. Actually, the website only maps the contributions made by unregistered Wikipedia users. When such a user makes an edit, they are identified only by IP address. This is just as well—a similar website called Wikistream logs all changes to Wikipedia (although not in such a graphically-friendly way), and watching the flood of new entries can get overwhelming, fast.

LaPorte and Hashemi said they built their map using the JavaScript library D3, datamaps-world.js, a service for searching the geolocation of IP addresses called, and Wikimedia's recent changes IRC feed. The two programmers note in their blog that “you may see some users add non-productive or disruptive content to Wikipedia. A survey in 2007 indicated that unregistered users are less likely to make productive edits to the encyclopedia.” Helpfully, when you see a change made to a specific article, you can click on that change to view how the page has been edited (and change it back if it merits more editing).

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