There will be those out there, I’ve met a lot of them, who believe that Wikipedia is the bane of the internet’s existence; a prime example of all that makes the internet wrong and troublesome. However I will not be swayed, because I know the type of mind that edits Wikipedia, and if a fact is wrong, neither hell nor high water will stand between that person and the correct information being presented.
However a new function of Wikipedia has been beginning to bloom of late, and that is, an unintended short-range tool to predict the future.
Of course, predicting the future is simply having facts ahead of time that the majority do not have. That being said, in looking back at the Wikipedia pages for Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain and his new running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, one might have been able to clue in to just who McCain would choose.
According to Cyveillance, a private Internet-monitoring company, in the five days prior to Sarah Palin being nominated, her Wiki page was updated 54 times, and saw 68 changes on August the 28th. Conversely, Tim Pawlenty's Wiki page only saw 54 changes on the 28th, and a measly 12 during the previous five days.
What was telling however was that the same people editing Palin’s article were also noted to be editing John McCain’s entry as well.
"We noticed the same pattern when we looked at changes in Wiki pages for Sen. Joseph Biden and Governor Tim Kaine and some of the other potential Democratic candidates," said Terry Gudaitis, director of cyber intelligence for Cyveillance. "We saw a lot of accuracy and footnote changes on Biden's, while on Kaine's page there were a few but not too many. Also, a couple of the same editors were working on both the Obama and Biden Wiki pages."
Cyveilliance normally spends its time scouring the internet on behalf of clients in a search for information on a possible acquisition or hiring. For example, when you notice that someone updates their online resume, they may be looking to leave their current job.
As mentioned by Gudaitis, a similar increase in Wikipedia edits were detected the day before the Obama campaign officially named Jo Biden as the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate. On the 22nd, the day before, Biden’s Wiki entry saw about 40 changes, and on the five days prior there were at least 111 edits made.
So while it may be a few years until we can create a monitoring system to accurately predict the future, it makes for interesting reading in hindsight.
Posted by Josh Hill.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is Wikipedia an Unwitting Political Prediction Engine?: