Measuring Global Disease with Wikipedia: Success, Failure, and a Research Agenda.


these approaches work remains open. We addressed this question using Wikipedia access logs and category links. Our experiments, replicable and extensible using our open source code and data, test the effect of semantic article filtering, amount of training data, forecast horizon, and model staleness by comparing across 6 diseases and 4 countries using thousands of individual models. We found that our minimal-configuration, language-agnostic article selection process based on semantic relatedness is effective for improving predictions, and that our approach is relatively insensitive to the amount and age of training data. We also found, in contrast to prior work, very little forecasting value, and we argue that this is consistent with theoretical considerations about the nature of forecasting. These mixed results lead us to propose that the currently observational field of internet-based disease surveillance must pivot to include theoretical models of information flow as well as controlled experiments based on simulations of disease.

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