Wikipedia is the sixth most visited website in the world. Its articles written collaboratively represent the primary source of information on many topics for millions of people. In fact, they can be considered a mirror of the global collective memory.
In Barcelona Media we have analyzed biographies of people on Wikipedia using the links between them to detect influential characters in fifteen different linguistic communities. In the English version, the biography that gets more links is that of George W. Bush, followed by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
In the Wikipedia in Catalan and considering the betweenness, which measures the importance of an individual to connect others, the first to be found is Adolf Hitler, followed by Che Guevara and Juan Carlos I. In the Spanish version, the top three are Michael Jackson, Fidel Castro and William Shakespeare.
The study is based on a set of 200,000 famous people drawn from the English version of Wikipedia. The study highlights the similarity of the links on versions of Wikipedia that have linguistic relations (e.g.: Romance and Slavic languages) and the ones with geographical and historical bonds (e.g.: the Scandinavian group, or Russia with Poland and Finland).
There are also less obvious connections such as the similarity of the Japanese to Spanish and Dutch, the latter being also similar to the Finnish. In fact, the Dutch seems to serve as a bridge between different linguistic and cultural groups.
The first results of these studies are published in a pre-print in Arxiv