Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai terrorist attack: the 21-hour evolution of a co-authored document.

We discuss writing for the Internet, including co-authroing composite and co-authored documents and collaborative writing by small and very large groups.

The Mumbai terrorist attack provides an illustration of a co-authored document with many authors. The Wikipedia page on the attack was started at 18:20, 26 November 2008 by a user named Kensplanet. The initial posting consisted of two sentences:

The 26 November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks were a series of attacks by terrorists in Mumbai, India. 25 are injured and 2 killed.
Kensplanet revised his initial post 5 times during the next ten minutes, then others began to contribute. By 15:44, 27 November 2008, the article was 4,780 words long with many links. During this time, there had been 942 edits. Of those, 149 were anonymous (IP address only), 199 people made only one, and 93 authors could not be identified. Two contributors had made over 50 edits. Kensplanet, who started the article, had made 57.

The organization of the article also evolved during this period. While it began as two sentences, 21 hours later it was organized into 6 major sections with 5 sub-sections:


For the story of the evolution of another Wikipedia page, see this most interesting screencast by Jon Udell.