Understanding collective attention processes through Wikipedia


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Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
Understanding collective attention processes through Wikipedia
Title of the conference
ASA 2020 115th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association
Baya-Laffite Nicolas, Maître Ogier, Beaude Boris
San Francisco, CA, USA
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The formation of collective attention, as many other social processes, has been deeply affected by the generalization of Internet access and the pervasiveness of new digital media technologies. Our collective attentions are unfailingly linked to a complex ecosystem of digital media devices and practices, which does not only shape them, but also traces their dynamics with unprecedented precision. Wikipedia currently plays a pivotal role therein. In this paper, we present and discuss a new methodological approach to the study of how collective attention processes deploy through Wikipedia. Developed in the framework of the WikiMaps project at the University of Lausanne, our approach proposes to repurpose Wikipedia’s consultation digital traces as a means to provide a new understanding of the social mechanisms and dynamics of ‘matters of attention’ at an unprecedented scale. Having built a database comprising eleven years of all geocoded pages’ consultations from the 40 main language editions, a dedicated online platform allows then to visually explore these data across space, time, and linguistic editions. Our cartographic approach affords, in particular, new ways to characterize with great precision patterns of attention elicited by different kinds of phenomena taking place across the globe and compare their relative ‘globality’ or linguistic entrenchment. Thereby, we foster a non-aprioristic approach to what constitutes matters of collective attention, often as parts of processes of memory construction or social problematization. To demonstrate these affordances, we analyze and discuss global, collective attention processes, and their interlinkages through analogy in remembrance processes, in the cases of the Hiroshima atomic bombings, the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster, and the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
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23/03/2021 17:29
Last modification date
10/07/2021 6:33
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