Mapping bilateral information interests using Wikipedia edit activities.

We live in a global village where electronic communication has eliminated the geographical barriers of information exchange. With global information exchange, the road is open to worldwide convergence of opinions and interests. However, it remains unknown to what extent information interests actually have become global.

To address how interests differ between countries, we analyzed the information exchange in Wikipedia, the world’s largest online collaborative encyclopedia. From the editing activity in Wikipedia, we extracted the interest profiles of editors from different countries. Based on a statistical model for interest profiles, we created a network of significant links between countries with similar activity. Using clustering, we find that countries can be divided into 18 clusters with similar interest profiles, which suggests that language, geographical proximity, religion, and historical background diversify the interests.

Each color represents cluster of countries that share similar information interests. 

We quantify the effects of these factors using regression analysis and find that information exchange indeed is constrained by the impact of social and economic factors connected to shared interests.

Link to the paper in Nature Palgrave Communications.

Data for download.

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