Visualizing Wikipedia: A tale of life, love, and bureaucracy

Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 7:00pm
Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, IBM Visual Communication Lab

Joint meeting of Boston/Central New England Chapter of IEEE Computer Society, ICCA and GBC/ACM
We report on Wikipedia's evolution from a curiosity to a point of first reference for millions. Applying data visualization techniques to Wikipedia's historical archives uncovers a story in three acts: life, love, and bureaucracy. "Life" refers to the impressive ability of Wikipedia to heal itself after vandalism and errors. "Love" is reflected in the overwhelming scale of individual production and the passion shown by devoted editors. And bureaucracy--an unexpected aspect of a free-spirited community--is becoming prevalent as the site scales, with emerging formalized processes and roles that help ensure quality.

Lecturer Biography: 

Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg are research scientists in IBM's Visual Communication Lab. Viégas is known for her pioneering work on depicting chat histories and email. Wattenberg's visualizations of the stock market and baby names are considered internet classics. The two became a team in 2003 when they decided to visualize Wikipedia, leading to the "history flow" project, discussed in this talk, that revealed the self-healing nature of the online encyclopedia. They are currently exploring the power of web-based visualization and the social forms of data analysis it enables.


Map showing the MIT campus. The red building is Bldg. E51; the T symbol at the top is the Kendall T-Station. Building E51 is located near the Eastern extremity of MIT, on Memorial Drive close to the Longfellow Bridge. It also adjoins Amherst Street and Wadsworth Street.
Building E51 is a short walk from the Kendall T station. Room 325 is on the third floor.
Parking: Driving westbound on Memorial Drive you may park on the street near Building E51. There are often spaces available there in the evening. Driving eastbound on Main Street you will see an MIT parking lot on the right between the Kendall Square T and the Longfellow Bridge.