Monday, January 08, 2007

Reading lists from Wikipedia

Alexander D. Wissner-Gross, a physics Ph.D. student at Harvard, presented his paper this summer entitled Preparation of Topical Reading Lists from the Link Structure of Wikipedia at ICALT'06. Wissner-Gross shows how an algorithm based on PageRank can be used to generate background reading lists from Wikipedia. I especially like this paper because it is the solution to a real teaching problem that Wissner-Gross encountered when preparing to teach one of his courses: how can we automate the time-consuming process of generating a quality reading list for a class?

Update on 1/30/07:

Wissner-Gross emailed me this morning with the web address of the reading list engine:

I got some interesting results for Digital preservation. Although Digital obsolescence popped up first, some irrelevant results like Vanderbilt University and University of Virginia also popped up. A search for web crawling brought up 2003 as a result. I'm not sure if these lists would be more useful than if I looked directly at the See also section, but it's still an interesting idea.