Biographical social networks on Wikipedia - A cross-cultural study of links that made history

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Citation: Pablo Aragón and Andreas Kaltenbrunner and David Laniado and Yana Volkovich (2012) Biographical social networks on Wikipedia - A cross-cultural study of links that made history. arxiv (RSS)


Tagged: Computer Science (RSS) biographies (RSS), social networks (RSS), Wikipedia (RSS), cross-cultural (RSS)


Barcelona Media Foundation studies "the most influential characters" in the 15 largest language Wikipedias, by asking which biographies are the most linked to ("central") from other Wikipedia biography articles. Political and artistic biographies are the most central, and the particular biographies depends on the language. They find, for instance, that Shakespeare's biography is among the most important for several languages (Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch), but not for English. They also find the similarity between the social networks in different language editions. Most similarity can be explained by language-family and geographical or historical ties. One interesting finding is that Dutch "seems to serve as a bridge between different language and cultural groups". Some social connections are very common,and they produce a graph of the connections found in at least 13 of the language editions. The authors note that people from non-Anglo-Saxon cultures may be missing if they are not known internationally, since the initial list of notable people is extracted from DBPedia.

Theoretical and practical relevance:

A blog post on Technology Review highlighted the fact that in the paper's table of most connected biographies (listing the top 5 from 15 language versions), among the 75 entries "only three are women: Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe and Margaret Thatcher" , which it interprets as one of "The Worrying Consequences of the Wikipedia Gender Gap".