Thursday, July 26, 2012

comparing the geographies of Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian Wikipedias

As part of our efforts to map the geographies of Wikipedia (with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa), I thought that it would be worth taking a quick look at the layers of content in the Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian Wikipedias.

I'm unsure why we see more Persian focus in most of Asia (although more Arabic focus in Southeast Asia), more Hebrew focus in South America, and more Arabic focus in North America. But it is interesting that (outside of Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa) we see such distinct regional focuses for each of the encyclopaedias. Many of these patterns might be explained by immigration and emigration (e.g. the links between Ethiopia and Israel). Others (as we've seen before) can likely be explained by dedicated editors who are on a mission to create content about particular places.

If you'd like to see more detailed maps of any of these three language versions, all relevant posts are accessible here


Tim said...

I think there is a lot that makes sense in this map.

One feature in many young Israelis' lives is the trip abroad after the army. The two quintessential places are Nepal and the Inca trail in South America, and so I'm not surprised to find Hebrew content in those areas. Likewise there is a continuing Israeli interest in the Holocaust as well as the historical Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe, and your map reflects that interest.

In the case of Arabic, it is important to remember that is the chief language of Islam internationally. There is a large market for Arabic-language Islamic education in most Muslim countries, and I personally have known many Arabs who chose to vacation in certain Muslim or mixed countries, especially Malaysia. International Arabic-language news covers countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia in such detail you might think they were Arab countries.

As far as Persian is concerned, it might be good to remember the deep links between South and Central Asia and between Iran, Pakistan, and India.

Tajik is of course a dialect of Persian as is Dari, and the fact that the Persian wikipedia has 20x more pages than the Tajik one is to me a possible sign that many Tajik-speakers use the Persian wikipedia instead. And anyway what might Tajik- and Dari-speakers want to write about? Well, Tajikistan was part of the Soviet Union and has a huge emigre population in Russia, while Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union. I'm not surprised by the heavy interest across Central Asia and the former Soviet Union.

ps I love the blog!

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