Information can be beautiful. This year we have launched a new award category for Best Infograph: visual representations of information, data or knowledge, these graphics communicate complex information quickly and clearly to audiences.
Wikipedia is one of the world’s largest and most important repositories of crowdsourced knowledge. Dr Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute) has developed a map that uncovers the distinct geographies of that information.
Most Wikipedia articles about places, events or any other locatable articles are geotagged with a pair of latitude and longitude coordinates. We downloaded the list of approximately 1.5 million articles from a 2010 database of Wikipedia (in all languages) and joined them to a file containing the boundaries of every country in order to determine the total number of geotagged articles in every country.
What the map reveals at a glance is fascinating. There is a highly uneven geography of information in Wikipedia. Europe and North America are home to 84% of all articles. Anguilla has the fewest number of geotagged articles (four), and indeed most small countries have less than 100 articles. However, it is not just microstates that are characterized by extremely low levels of wiki representation. Almost all of Africa is poorly represented in the encyclopedia. Remarkably, there are more Wikipedia articles (7,800) written about Antarctica than any country in Africa or South America. Even China, which is home to the world’s biggest population of Internet users and is the fourth largest country on Earth contains fewer than 1% of all geotagged articles. Because of the high visibility of Wikipedia in online information ecosystems, countless decisions are made and countless opinions are formed based on information available in the encyclopedia. It is thus important to point out the digital terra incognita that covers much of the world and reproduces existing representational asymmetries. The map is also in the publication: Graham, M., Hale, S. A. and Stephens, M. (2011) Geographies of the World’s Knowledge.
2nd prize is for this visually stunning and communicative infograph by Scott Hale (DPhil student and Research Assistant at the Oxford Internet Institute). This poster and extended abstract were accepted and presented in Austin, TX, at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2012) from 7-10 May. The analysis for this work collects, manages, and analyses more than 130GB of data encompassing tweets from Twitter and edits to Wikipedia about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The poster examines the sharing of off-site hyperlinks between speakers of different languages on Twitter and between different language editions of Wikipedia. The extended abstract is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2212776.2212456
In 3rd place is an infograph that asks the visitor to compare themselves with the data. Ryan Harrison’s (Department of Physics and Wolfson College) ‘Face of Life Sciences’ asks what does an American life scientist really look like? Using nifty facial averaging software, combined with available government statistics the image answers the question.