A few months back I stumbled across Hatnote’s Listen to Wikpedia project, a wonderful little tool that emits gentle tones and sounds every time someone edits a page on Wikipedia, as well as outputting some basic information onto the screen. I came across the project from a Reddit post that mentioned its use as background music to put you to sleep, but personally I actually found it better to use whilst working. In any case, the biggest takeaway from the project for me personally was the discovery that a feed for all Wikipedia edits existed, and better yet, Hatnote actually open it up for public use.
Almost immediately I saw the opportunity for a cool little webpage; a visual representation of every Wikipedia edit, live, plotted onto a map of the world (shortly before writing this article I decided to google the concept, only to find that it has actually been done by a couple of people, but no matter, this was only ever a programming exercise).
So a little while back I embarked upon the journey. I created a page containing a nice big Google Map, I attached a listener to Hatnote’s WebSocket, and I began parsing edits.
Check it out here: wikimap.duncanmcardle.com
Now, this project isn’t exactly complex from a programming standpoint. It’s all client side, it uses only jQuery and Bootstrap, and for the most part, it’s just vanilla HTML and CSS. Had I sat down and worked on this straight, it would probably only have taken a few hours. In reality it’s been a work in progress for months (jumping in for 5 minutes and then back out again every few weeks), despite its lack of complexity, but as the end result seems to be a reasonably solid, I suppose that makes it worth it.
If you’re interested in how it works, or want to make improvements, you can check out the GitHub page for the project.
Special thanks goes out to the Hatnote team, not only for enabling tools like this to exist using their WebSocket, but also for their fantastic original idea, which I thoroughly recommend you go and check out!
Before you go, a quick story for you: Whilst creating this project, I was watching Wikipedia edits roll in when a particular edit stuck right out at me; it was a Wikipedia page with the same name as my brother, being edited from our home city of Liverpool! After investigating, it turned out to be a page unrelated to my brother, but was nevertheless an incredible coincidence, given the millions of Wikipedia articles that exist, the thousands of locations the edit could have come from, and the incredible timing that it just so happened to occur while I was sitting there watching!