Today I present a new animated visualization of Wikipedia edits.
It shows all edit events for all Wikipedia’s on one random day. Currently this is
14 February 10 May 2011. On that particular day all Wikipedia’s combined had been edited 369,384 times.
The visualization grabs all those edits (time, location and language code) and shows how these were spread over the globe. You can see the distribution over space and time in an animation. You can also see static maps: bubble maps and heat maps, either per major language or for all languages combined. For bubble maps: large bubbles correspond to many edits, done from the location at the center of the bubble. For heat maps: bright colors correspond to many edits from that particular spot. Bubbles help you quickly focus on areas of large activity, heat maps have better resolution.
You can zoom and pan (mouse), click on the map for latitude and longitude (only when zoomed out), change the animation speed (5x-30x), toggle between color and black&white map (latter with country borders), show/hide the position of the sun, city names and approximated local times, and change event marker type and size (types are circle, fixed or animated language code). You can cycle through major languages (easiest with space bar), fast forward the clock by 1 hour, or pause the animation. Type H for Help on all options and their associated keys.
Two measures were taken to guard privacy of authors. Timestamps have a deliberate error of up to 10 minutes. For very active editors or wiki’s with little activity this would not suffice. More importantly all coordinates have been rounded to a half degree longitude and latitude (roughly 55 km or 34 miles squared).
The animation and maps were implemented in html5, with the canvas object. I used this same approach two years ago,with another animation about Wikipedia. Since then browser support for html5 canvas has considerably improved.