[View History] reveals the hidden evolution of knowledge on Wikipedia.
  • 2015
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  • Data Viz Collaborative Show at SAIC
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  • Collaboration
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  • Tags: Art
Overview

[View History] reveals the evolution of a controversial Wikipedia article — “Global Warming” — in two ways: through the chronology of edits and through discussions between editors.

We think of Wikipedia pages as static articles rather than as dynamic, evolving documents. We don’t reread articles looking for how they have changed since our last visit. Even though the revision history is publicly available, it is effectively hidden to readers. [View History] explores that hidden history, bringing it from the background to the foreground.

Installation

On the left side of the installation, overlaid sheets of acrylic show the chronological development of the content of the “Global Warming” article from 2007 to 2014. I analyzed the article to find when each word was added. The older a word was, the farther back into the stack it was rendered.

In the center, three books – “Some people dispute,” “wording choice” and “consensus view” – record the debates and comments among individuals as the article evolved. “Some people dispute” collects controversial edits surrounding a strongly opinionated editor, “wording choice” examines how language choices reflect biases and “consensus view” looks at how majority and minority views get represented in Wikipedia.

On the right side of the installation, the three books fit into place on top of the text of the Wikipedia article, pulled from the “Discourse about global warming” section. The covers and titles of the books are excerpts from this section of the article.

Collaboration

[View History] was a collaboration between artists & scientists. Our team consisted of Sid Benteftifa, Olivia Ching, Meghan Ryan Morris, Steph Shapiro, Julia Torres & Brandon Williams.