Physical places in the modern world are increasingly layered with digital data, as we've previously written. To take one easy example at hand, the building where The Atlantic Cities is based – in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. – has its own Twitter feed and its own Wikipedia page (which links to a separate Wikipedia page about the eponymous scandal), and the coffee shop downstairs from our office has its own review page on Yelp.
Places have a digital footprint, just as people do. But this doesn't mean that all of the information on the Internet about a place comes from that place, or from people closely connected to it (want to know who's been editing the Watergate Wikipedia page?). And this raises an old question with a new twist for the Internet age about where our information comes from, and how the answer should influence the way we interpret it. You'd feel a lot differently about reviews for "authentic" restaurants in Chinatown if you knew they'd been written by the local Chinese-American community rather than Midwestern tourists, right?
Last month we wrote about the attempts of Mark Graham and some other researchers toquantify digital data about place and to begin to understand what it might mean for some places to be more "densely" populated with data than others. Graham has now posted an interesting update on the Floating Sheep blog that looks at not only what information exists on Wikipedia, but where the people writing it come from.