Tuesday, March 6, 2007

wikipedia trends

This wikipedia chart shows what the most popular articles on wikipedia for certain time periods. Aside from the huge number of sex-related topics, the chart shows very interesting trends in what is popular for a given period of time. Looking at past months, we can almost track what happened just by looking at the most popular pages. For example in the February 2007 list, Anna Nicole Smith spiked in popularity as an article after her shocking death. The Battle of Thermopylae is also popular due to the movie 300 coming out.

At some point we have studied things like Carbon-14 dating, but with things like this, we can almost create a timeline of culture. It'd be interesting to look back and say 50 years and look at things like this and have a record to popular interest of people at any given time. Combining information like this along with TV ratings and other charts of public viewing would allow us to remember the past better than ever before. Yet just how much would the internet let us see?

Privacy has always been a concern on the internet. Who knows who is watching what you type or surf while you are on? Many companies are monitoring for harmless purposes, like wikipedia is. However, many more are monitoring to advertise or other purposes. The question is what information should be availiable or what should be kept secret-and how.

Until then, I wholehearted support keeping information like wikipedia is keeping-not individual specfics, but a broad overview. Sites like google of course have been and will continue to do so.

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