Wikipedia and the fronts of World War I

Taking a list of World War I military engagements from Wikipedia, it is possible to plot these on a map. Then using code to analyse Wikipedia (as seen in this earlier visualisation) we can plot a shape on the map to show how many editors (height) and edits (width) the article for each battle has had.

Wikipedia ,as a free online resource, is a great place to look at how First World War history has been reported, and how it differs across the world. We can even compare articles written on the same military engagement, but from different linguistic points of view using the manypedia.tool.

When we discuss the War’s Western and Eastern fronts we are talking about theatres of war in Europe. But, looking at the placement of engagements globally we see that the most Westerly battle is fought in Arizona, the most easterly in German Colonial China. Africa has  Western, Eastern and Southern fronts – whereas  Mesopotamia has a single line of battles up to Baghdad. The Ottoman Empire also fights Russia in the North East, and the Serbs in the North West. Even on these fronts, the battles are fragmented, for instance Battle of Arras (1917) becomes the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Vimy Ridge, whereas the French contribution to that battle remains the Nievelle Offensive.

We’ve made two KML files. A KML files is a file that contains geographic annotation and visualisation for earth viewing software. You can open these files in Google Maps or Google Earth.

1) A plot of all of the military engagements [View in Google Maps] [Download file to view in Google Earth]

2) A plot of all of the military engagements as a visualisation of how they have been edited in Wikipedia. The width of each battle is the number of edits, the height represents the number of editors. [View in Google Maps] [Download file to view in Google Earth]

To view in Google Earth: If you haven’t already, download Google Earth to your computer, then download the files you would like to explore from the links above. Open the file in Google Earth. You can use your cursor to move the globe and in many cases zoom down to street level. Click on the pins for links to the Wikipedia articles.

Cite : Wikipedia and the fronts of World War I ( by Pat Lockley ( licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales (

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About Pat Lockley

I helped to develop this site's structure and elements of the theme. I worked to develop a series of visualisations and open data resources for this site and to help approach World War One from new perspectives More examples of my work exist on my website
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2 Responses to Wikipedia and the fronts of World War I

  1. Pingback: The Global Nature of World War I | World War I Centenary

  2. Pingback: The Terrains of the Great War | World War I Centenary

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