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Reading us reading wikipedia

A really interesting new report released by wikipedia on usage statistics of its pages (over 29 million in English). And what do we find? Readers like celebrities, sex and death. It’s often unfortunate to know more about ourselves.

Actually, reports like this tend to do a disservice to things of greater interest that are buried in the data. Focusing on the “top” whatever is rarely an interesting way to understand something, unless it’s high school. It’s the usage of the broad middle and all of its pockets that we want to know more about. This graph is telling: it portrays the relationship between page rank and number of views, which follow a log-log relationship (i.e. a very few pages get a huge amount of the views). Welcome to the long tail of digital writing.


Finally, I was particularly interested in the part where they discuss the relationship between major interventions into pages (“attacks”) and the length of possible viewership. It was incredibly small. This means that one of the unreliabilities of a crowd-sourced resource — malignant intervention — is correctable at high speed. That was impressive to me.