25 May 2011

Fun with Wikipedia Networks

So the mouse-over text of today's xkcd ("Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at 'Philosophy.'") has inspired a little playful procrastination. I'd love to put together one of those fun xkcd-style info graphics (the ones with results of interesting little Internet experiments, e.g. "Numbers," "Regrets," "Dangers," etc.) with the results of some collective poking around. Data so far (from myself, Katy "Southside" Huff, Matt Waldron, and Eric "Wolfman" Howell):

"xkcd": 19 clicks
"Kadevu": 21 clicks
"Walker Percy": 27 clicks
"Kevin Bacon": 13 clicks
"Wisconsin Badgers": 27 clicks

Also, can someone who knows more about graph theory than I do give us some vocabulary to flesh out the kinds of data we can gather (or wish we could gather)? For instance, Matt Waldron asks via Twitter "I wonder what the longest non-loop answer is (i.e. was the furthest 'point' from Philosophy)?" His point about loops (graph theory: "cycles") is an interesting one. Has anyone found a cycle yet? I thought I had one in the Percy chain, but it turns out there are separate articles for "Meaning (philosophy of language)" and "Meaning (linguistic)." (This is one of those moments where I wish I were a better programmer and could just start writing code to explore all these questions. I'd also need to not be on the clock with someone else's money, which may actually be all that is stopping me.)

Anyway, if you're looking for a few minutes off from whatever you doing (I myself am determined to finish my Walker Percy paper for the upcoming Christian Scholars Conference), please consider checking out a few articles' paths to "Philosophy" and report back!

1 comment:

Kyle Matthew Oliver said...

Matt points out that, as usual, the collective readership of xkcd is already way ahead of me. Check the forum for, currently, 264 posts along these lines. Apparently folks are starting to "fix" some of the article paths that do have cycles ("Computer Software" and "Oral History" are, or at least were, examples).

I love being a geek, albeit a slow-moving one.