As regular readers of this page may have gleaned by now, I'm something of a cynic; I have little to no faith in humanity, a position not helped by the topics making frequent visitations to this list. Wikipedia offers all the knowledge of humanity to the world (at varying levels of accuracy); despite this, most people seem to want to use it either to keep track of celebrity scandals, as a free TV listings guide or, rather oddly, a noticeboard for the deaths of famous people.
Last week saw the deaths of both Paul Walker, an action star who outside of his signature Fast and Furious franchise had not had a major hit, and Nelson Mandela, a global hero and inspiration to millions of people—one in a car crash, the other peacefully in his sleep. When Walker's death generated 7.4 million hits over Mandela's 4.2 million, I initially concluded that the public had been drawn to the ghoulish nature of Walker's demise over the far more historically significant, if uneventful, passing of Mandela. And yet ... Mandela's death was relatively late in the week; Walker's had occurred right at the start. Maybe the stats were lying; after all, day-to-day, Mandela's death was generating twice the hits of Walker's. So I waited a week, and, well, Walker's death still generated more hits in its first week than Mandela's did. In its first ten days. So, OK. Apparently people are far more attached to the Fast and Furious series than I ever knew.
In other news, an animated Google Doodle for computer programmer and naval rear admiral Grace Hopper generated another record-breaking hit count for the year, though the count for the list overall was lower than for that of the previous holder.
Animated Google Doodles always bring in the numbers, but this record-breaking surge is not something you'd expect to see unless India's involved. Still, it's not hard to see what drew people to Grace Hopper; not only was she a woman in a still-male-dominated field, but a US Navy Rear Admiral to boot. She graduated first in her Naval class, despite being 15 pounds under stipulated minimum weight, and also popularized the word "debugging" to describe fixing computer glitches.
The killing and robbing duo got a spike of interest this week when The History Channel launched a cross-channel event to promote a docudrama about them. Despite the venue, this film is not being hailed for historical accuracy; according to The Guardian's Erin McGann, "if you're a fan of the 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, stay away. And if you have even a passing familiarity with the real-life story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker … stay far, far away."
The third most popular Wikipedia article between 2010 and 2012, and a perpetual bubble-under-er. Not really surprising that the country with by far the most English speakers would be the most popular on the English Wikipedia.
The digital currency is back in the news this week. Bankers have suggested it may prove a legitimate competitor to real money, even though they are best described as a store of value rather than a functional currency. An attempt to declare "Bitcoin Black Friday" to try to get people to actually spend them instead of hoarding them (Except that, from one point of view, hoarding them is exactly the right thing to do if their value continues to skyrocket as it has done) led to the purchase of a great deal of gold, swapping one store of value another.