Wikipedia needs no introduction. It was started in 2001, collaboratively developed by the community of volunteers, which now has 70000 active members world wide. With 30 million articles written in 287 languages it is one of the biggest website.

Not only the content is accessible to everyone. On you can find links to database dumps, and page view statistics.

The questions is: Can we use those logs to tell something about people? Is it possible to identify trending topics? And if something is happening in the real world, is Wikipedia a source to read about that?

House of Cards

Let’s start with the House of Cards series. This article on Wikipedia became very popular when new seasons were published (February 2013 and February 2014). You can see that Kevin Spacey’s page popularity matches House of Cards pattern.

Number of page views for House of Cards and Kevin Spacey articles

Crimea crisis

Let’s have a look at the following articles: Crimea, Ukraine and Vladimir_Putin. We can see those page views reaching high values in March, when the Crimea crisis took place. Note that Putin’s article has also some other peaks (i.e. related to Winter Olympics in Sochi in Febrauary 2014). Also trend for Ukraine article reveals some other events (from mass demonstrations in November 2013 to overthrowing the president in February 2014).

Number of page views for Crimea related articles

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela passed away in December 2013. Funeral ceremony was mentioned all over the world and his page on Wikipedia reached the highest number of visits.

Number of page views for Nelson Mandela related articles

The examples shown above suggest that events happening in the real world are accompanied by increased page view numbers on Wikipedia of related articles. In this cases it was obvious, but it can be interesting to look for trending topics on Wikipedia to discover something not trivial about the world and people.

Hadoop Summit

Last week I was in Amsterdam on Hadoop Summit. I really enjoyed most of the presentations. I tried to follow rather the technical track, but even those more abstract sessions were often inspiring, so after two days I arrived at home very motivated. It would be great to visit Amsterdam next year.

Elektra at NEMO, Amsterdam

Elektra at NEMO, Amsterdam

Just to keep this entry a bit informative I will include one off-topic idea that was mentioned on the summit.


Project Openpaths was mentioned in one of the presentations. It was started by the New York Times and the main idea is to keep track of people movements. Thanks to the app installed on your smarthone you will have log of your positions available to download from the site. Mayby I come back later with some visualisation idea, for now have just started collecting data.