Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#WMhack - last years demo

At last years hackathon, one highlight was the map showing the history of Islamic states. It makes clever use of Wikipedia and it makes information available in Arabic and English.

This year the hackathon will be in Zurich and one of the main subjects are maps and how it relates to Wikidata. The history of Islamic states is relevant in all languages and it would be cool when we can update this application to make use of Wikidata.

In this map,  all the different states have an overlay. There must be a map for each state at each interval. This app shows the different rulers at a time.

When we have such overlays available to us, we can do more than show the rulers, the centres of power. We could show the battles, the wars, the conquests. They happen in between the changes of the maps.

Maps that show areas grow and wane in time are another area where Wikidata can be a real help if only because it links to information in so many languages.

#Wikidata, #maps and #sprites

Maps are static but many maps define something that is very much alive. Take the "raid on the Medway". It shows two flotillas, it indicates how they move. It does not show anything happening of the other side of this battle. It does not show positions.

A sprite is a two-dimensional image or animation that is integrated into a larger scene. It can be put on a map. Picture this, the same map of the raid on the Medway and two little sprites moving in time along the indicated lines.

Technically it is not much of a challenge. It becomes interesting when it starts moving on a real map, an OpenStreetMap for instance. Add the moments when we have images that show scenes of a battle, an occurrence and we get something that becomes relevant.

Technically it seems doable. It seems like a challenge that brings together the parts that already exist. It will be really exciting when it brings Wikidata, Commons, OpenStreetMap together. It will help us explain about events. It is part of sharing the sum of all knowledge.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#Wikidata - The dead at the #Arabic #Wikipedia

As the #quality of Wikidata can be measured, it is important to be inclusive when what is measured are the people who died in 2014. People die in every country like this gentleman from Saudi Arabia.

According to the article, he died Thursday, 12 May 1435 AH, that is the same as 13 March 2014. Google translate transliterates the title as "Zaid bin Mohammed portal". That is enough reason not to use the transliteration as the title for the item.

When you read the article it is about Mr bin Mohammed and does not give the impression of a portal page.. That is for someone who understands the Arabic Wikipedia to fix.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#Wikidata - ประนอม รัชตพันธุ

When #Quality is the objective and when quality is to be measured, it helps when there is something that demonstrates how Wikidata provides quality. The 2014 deaths provides a great opportunity; currently we know about 2108 people who died.

Making this list complete is not always that easy, the lady whose portrait you see, has an article on the Thai Wikipedia it is indicated that she died and, with Google translate I find the following:
Born October 1, 2457
Province, Thailand
Died 17 January 2557 (99 years).
Thailand Nationality
The Thai dates have to be converted to Gregorian dates, it is great that there is functionality around that helps with the necessary conversion. The question that is if our Thai users can enter their dates in the Thai format.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

#Wikidata - George Bookasta

Mr Bookasta has an article on the English Wikipedia. Until recently there was no item for him on Wikidata. With a new tool by Magnus, the Creator, items were added for all articles that are in the categories of people who were born or who died after 1850.

Since then two inter language links were added for Mr Bookstra. Thanks to a query we can track who is added to the category of 2014 deaths and are not known to be dead in Wikidata.

As all the people who died in 2014 have their deaths noted, it is only a matter of keeping up. The article for Mr Bookstra is small but includes many bits of information that can be added to Wikidata. One thing that I did not add is that he was also a bigband leader.

Friday, April 11, 2014

#Wikidata and naval history

The answer of what a GLAM hopes to find in Wikidata can be surprising. "We have several paintings of the Raid on the Medway and, we would like to find data about that battle and be able to place our paintings as illustrations in the sequence of events".

One Dutch admiral, Michiel de Ruyter, has a painting hanging near paintings of the battle and, it would be great when he can be associated to these events as well.

When you have a look at the info-boxes of the battles that were fought as part of the second Anglo-Dutch war, you will find the commanders of the opposing sides. You will find that the treaty of Breda ended this war.

The question is very much how to include all these facts in Wikidata. When we do and when we include information on the many historic events that have an item, we become extremely valuable to our partners.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

#Quality - the dead as we know them

Both the German and the English Wikipedia have a category that includes everyone that died in a particular year. Currently they include 724 and 1530 people. Obviously people died that do not have an article in either Wikipedia.

All the dead registered in Wikidata for 2014 account for 1724 people. It demonstrates some quality because the death of more notable people is known than in either or both Wikipedias.

There are some Chinese and some Russian people among them. Some people from Spain, Chile and Argentina. From India, the Cook Islands and Sweden.  Many notable people from these and other countries are missing.

When we do, they will show up on the date of their death. When you look at today, April 9 2014, there are currently two people known to have died. One is from Serbia, the other is from Trinidad and Tobago. This number will grow. Showing it in the Reasonator is already a good thing. A next step would be to create a tool that will inform all projects about the people that have died in the last year.

Quality is measured by comparison, it becomes valuable when the information can be acted upon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

#Wikidata - Nordic Children's Book Prize

The Nordic Children's Book Prize has been awarded to people from Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The article for the prize exists in many languages including English. They all list the winners for the prize and the list is incomplete for all of them but not necessarily in the same way.

Wikidata knows about 23 winners including the 2013 winner. She was known in Wikidata, there is no Wikipedia who identified her as the winner of this prize.

It would be nice when all the winners were known to Wikidata and, when there is an image for all of them.

#Quality - #Wikipedia vs #Wikidata

Probably the most divisive issue in both Wikipedia and Wikidata is quality. It is because of expectations and insistence on what "everybody" should do.

Both projects are Wikis and as far as I am concerned, the argument was decided when Nupedia got its early grave. The clincher was when research proved that Wikipedia is as good as its competition.

Quality in a Wiki world is comparative and not an absolute. You can compare Wikidata to each Wikipedia and, you can compare Wikidata to all Wikipedias. Wikidata knows about more "items of knowledge" than any Wikipedia. Every Wikipedia includes articles that are not yet represented in Wikidata and when they are, many statements are waiting to be made in Wikidata.

To create an environment where a Wikipedia can use Wikidata for its information, there are a few prerequisites, considerations:
  • at least every article needs to be connected to a Wikidata item
  • all the data needs to be available, preferably in Wikidata only
  • the information should be presentable in the language of the Wikipedia
This all will work when there is one shared understanding, one shared ambition: to share in the sum of all knowledge. It restricts what a community can decide, it directs what best practices are and it defines where tools are needed to support best practices.

Wikidata is a game changer and, we as a community are slow getting to understand its implications. From a development point of view there is an obvious geographical divide. MediaWiki development for the application level does not consider Wikidata. Its architecture ignores it. Wikidata development is first and foremost development for its infrastructure, there is no option but as a consequence the tooling is mostly fragmented. Many in our communities consider Wikidata a service project and, while it is, it is becoming so much more. Catering to ill formed arguments and sentiments of the diverse communities will not serve Wikidata at all, it will not serve those communities either. What works is for everybody to work on the Wikidata data that is important to him or her and appreciate the considerations that make Wikidata the information platform for us all.