Visualizing the history flow of Wikipedia

IBM’s Collaborative User Experience Research group has posted a preliminary report on their work in “visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors” :

Most documents are the product of continual evolution. An essay may undergo dozens of revisions; source code for a computer program may undergo thousands. And as online collaboration becomes increasingly common, we see more and more ever-evolving group-authored texts. This site is a preliminary report on a simple visual technique, history flow, that provides a clear view of complex records of contributions and collaboration.

history flow provides answers at a glance to questions like, Has a community contributed to the text or has it been mostly written by a single author? How much has a particular contributor influenced the current version of the document? Is the text’s evolution marked by spurts of intense revision activity or does it reflect a smooth transition from its beginning to the present?

The researchers have applied their technique to selections from Wikipedia, chosen because its “‘open editing’ paradigm is a powerful and, sometimes, problematic venue for community collaboration as it invites both valuable contributions and flat out vandalism.”

Lots of pretty pics on the results and gallery pages, though they make more sense after quickly reading how it works.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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One Response to Visualizing the history flow of Wikipedia

  1. Good find! And blogged (http://manila.cet.middlebury.edu/mane/discuss/msgReader$457).

    I’d love to see one of these graphs for an entry which shrunk over time.

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