Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#LOC - #Wounded Knee II

At the time I blogged about the restoration of an old photograph take after Wounded Knee. At the time there were many people actively restoring pictures as a group. This is just one of the important restaurations undertaken by Durova.

Now almost five years later, I learned that the Library of Congress included the restored picture with the original. Now that is awesome.

#Wikipedia - She did not study at #Washburn #University

I like this picture. It is all I like about this person who according to the article about her studied at Washburn University. According to the article about the Washburn University school of law, she is a "notable alumni".

The issue is that there is no category for these alumni yet. It is something the Wikipedia editors did not do. So I want to borrow one of the slogans from the picture..
Mourn your sins
The others fit the person in the picture more than anything else. It is certainly colourful.

Monday, December 29, 2014

#Wikidata - 2000 #categories with a #list

When people die and it becomes known in Wikipedia, often more can be said about that person than just his date of death. They may have studied, held an office, been a member of a sports team or a political party. Much of this information is registered in categories.

Thanks to Autolist2 it is easy to add all that information to Wikidata. The best bit is that we can indicate what conditions the articles in the category have to fulfill in Wikidata itself. It is picked up by the Reasonator and this shows in these 2000 categories that have had the treatment so far.

So check out these categories, click on the Reasonator icon and be amazed about the number of items that have been enriched slowly but surely.

PS You can do this as well :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

#Wikidata - an #argument about a #list is not worth it

Eternal arguments are not worth it. From a Wikidata point of view, lists only represent articles on a Wikimedia project. They have little to no value on their own. The argument has it that you can either re-use lists to represent subjects OR you create items for the subject separately.

Sorting this out is a mess that does not bother me. I can be bothered to implement either of those two options.

The President of Sardinia is an item I created because I do not see the point in arguing the point yet again. I hope someone will revert me BUT first ends the argument in a conclusive manner.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

#Wikidata - a busman's holiday

I am on a break. The people who died do not inspire me to find that they studied, held an office, or were a professor at a university or campus. I do not know who there family was, I do not know if they participated in an event. It died.

What to do..

I challenged students to point out the successes of their university or campus. To be brutally honest, there are already enough of them from German and American schools. I do not really care about them. This is different for people from countries like India, Russia, China. From a numeric perspective there are too few of them known in Wikidata.

So I am adding people who studied in India. It beats rehashing old discussions. It beats convincing Wikidata people that my time is as precious as theirs. It beats being upset about the lack of experience by some of them. It beats eating too much.

Season greetings

Every year there is a SignWriting card like this one. It is send to the people subscribed to the SignWriting mailinglist. They are created by the list members themselves, this time by Stefan and Elfriede Wöhrmann.

There is no card they can buy from Hallmark but the need for cards for the seasons greetings is as high as for anyone else. Most years I put the card on my blog and this year is no exception. Each year I hope for at least one Wikipedia in a sign language. Maybe in 2015. This is what Steven Slevinsky has to say about it. It explains the challenges and the hope for the future really well.
I believe that 2015 will be the year of the sign language Wikipedia.  I believe the ASL Wikipedia activity will increase and other sign language Wikipedia projects will start. 
The new TrueType fonts are a great step forward: pages are 30 times smaller and SignWriting can be displayed without an internet connection.  Each page is reduced to a single connection, elimination a unique connection for each sign/symbol on the page. 
The new editors based on the TrueType fonts are nearing completion.  This will increase the spread of written sign language all over the Internet. 
Written sign language will also spread because of the inclusion of the SignWriting symbols in Unicode 8. 
So 2015 will be an amazing year for SignWriting.  We'll have TrueType fonts, new editors, Unicode, and Wikipedia.  A great combination for success.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#Wikidata - #Death is taking a break

It has been my pleasure to kill of many of the people who died in 2014 in Wikidata. It has been a struggle to keep up; they never stop. I use a tool to find most of them. It died on me and now I am taking a break.

The tool was developed by Magnus and like all the other tools of him it serves a purpose, it is even important, there is no alternative. When it breaks, there is the convenient excuse: "it is not official".

It is convenient and it ignores how important these tools are. Both the Wikimedia foundation and the chapters know how important these tools are and find it inconvenient when this is pointed out to them. Do they have a responsibility in this; is it important that the GLAMS are supported in their need for statistics?

This self absorption means that only their own stuff is deemed worthwhile enough for support never mind that it does not have the oomph to deliver, never mind that their alternative is only a mirage in a developers mind.

In the end it takes a Magnus to support many of the tools that make a difference in the real world. Magnus is taking a needed break. I wish him health, joy and happiness for the coming year. He is my Wikimedian of the year.

Friday, December 19, 2014

#Wikimedia Foundation - does not get one € of mine

The WMF Fundraiser will be a success. I hope it will be and when you feel like it, please do donate. You can donate by creditcard, by money transfer, by paypal, Please do.

However, I will not make a donation except for the donation of my time. Paying money is comparatively superbly organised in Europe. As a person you can transfer money without cost within Europe. All it takes is knowledge of the IBAN number to transfer to and the name of the entity you transfer money to. Easy peasy.

When you have a website with customers in the Netherlands, you can use a system called iDEAL it has the virtue of being cheap. Wikimedia Foundation does not support cheap.

Paypal and credit cards cost money, they deduce money from the amount given.

In Great Britain an organisation collects money for the WMF for a fee. At the same time there is a UK chapter who could easily organise it for the WMF and in the process hone their skills in fundraising, a skill the WMF wants it to develop anyway.

I refuse to pay these additional costs.

While I hope the WMF collects all the money it wants in the USA, It effectively hands over ownership to the USA and its way of working. There is little consideration for the rest of the world because if there was, they would actively welcome more monetary contributions and partner with its chapters in raising the funds needed for our movement and not only for the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#Google - Would you use your #trickery for us?

After the shock and awe of yesterday's announcement, There has been time to think. Google showed a real interest in Wikidata. It created a new tool to help improve the quality of its data. But the real expertise of Google is in determining the probability of facts. It is part and parcel of its ranking algorithms.

It would be as awesome when Google would indicate those statements it deems to have a less than even chance of being true. The combination of such a list and the new tool would make the efforts of the people seeking sources all the more relevant. When statements are debunked, it has a potential quality effect to all the associated Wikimedia projects. Given that it is probable that most statements are fine, it makes for more concentrated effort and consequently its effects will be noticed.

While we are on this line of thought, given the data of Freebase, Google could indicate based on its algorithms how probable its sets of data are. Everything that is highly likely should be a candidate for import in Wikidata. The other reason for importing data into Wikidata anyway is that it is an invitation to all the Freebasers to join our ranks, increase our expertise and together be awesome.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Google - What it does with #Freebase is beyond awesome

In an e-mail Denny Vrandečić announces an astounding bit of news. It effectively says that Wikidata can have all its data if it wants it.

It then goes on saying that it is not expected for Wikidata to accept all this data and follows with an announcement for a tool that is to source data. This news is best read as it was announced..
Thank you Google!
Freebase was launched to be a “Wikipedia for structured data”, because in 2007 there was no such project. But now we do have Wikidata, and Wikidata and its community is developing very fast. Today, the goals of Freebase might be better served by supporting Wikidata [1]. 
Freebase has seen a huge amount of effort go into it since it went public in 2007. It makes a lot of sense to make the results of this work available to Wikidata. But knowing Wikidata and its community a bit, it is obvious that we can not and should not simply upload Freebase data to Wikidata: Wikidata would prefer the data to be referenced to external, primary sources. 
In order to do so, Google will soon start to work on an Open Source tool which will run on Wikimedia labs and which will allow Wikidata contributors to find references for a statement and then upload the statement and the reference to Wikidata. We will release several sets of Freebase data ready for consumption by this tool under a CC0 license. This tool should also work for statements already in Wikidata without sufficient references, or for other datasets, like DBpedia and other machine extraction efforts, etc. To make sure we get it right, we invite you to participate in the design and development of this tool here: 
 https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Primary sources tool 
I hope you are as excited as I am about this project, and I hope that you will join me in making this a reality. I am looking forward to your contributions!  
[1] https://plus.sandbox.google.com/109936836907132434202/posts/bu3z2wVqcQc

Denny Vrandečić via lists.wikimedia.org 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#Wikidata - WDQ with load balancing

The #Wikipedia app on the #mobile is to give you everything that is near you. The question is, should it be based on Wikipedia or on Wikidata data. In order for software to find geo references, "magic words" need to be employed in Wikipedia. These same magic words can be used to harvest the information for Wikidata.

So what are the benefits of using Wikidata over Wikipedia with magic words .. Most importantly, there is only one Wikidata and there are 280+ Wikipedias. Everyone seeking information about subjects nearby is as entitled to great information as anyone else.

Wikidata does not have official query functionality. But it does have WDQ. Magnus and Yuvi are finishing the implementation of load balancing for WDQ. So the question is not can we serve geo coordinates from Wikidata but can we afford to let this opportunity slip us by.

PS There has been no evaluation of WDQ yet by WMF engineers.. Why not?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

#Wikipedia - The Time Jumpers

Recently one of the Time Jumpers, Dawn Sears, died. She was married to one of the other band members; Kenny Sears he is the one playing the fiddle to the right.

According to her Wikipedia article, she is indeed married to a Kenny Sears. This is however a redirect to someone else. The husband is known on the Time Jumpers article as Kenny Sears (fiddler), it is a red link.

It is easy enough to add an item for Mr Sears in Wikidata and link him to both the Time Jumpers and to his wife. It would be good when the Wikipedia red link could be linked to Wikidata. When red links are linked to Wikidata, it is possible to relate them to existing items. In this way information is available that can be used as information for a possible article. To bring this article to an editor it just needs to be presented on the red link. That is easy enough.

Friday, December 12, 2014

#Wikidata - Hans Wallat, conductor

According to the English Wikipedia Mr Wallat was awarded the Musikpreis der Stadt Duisburg. It is a "red link". The German Wikipedia has an article about this award. It lists all the winners of this award.

Using the Linked Items tool, it is trivially easy to add statements for the winners of this award. For all but three; they are red links on the German Wikipedia, it is easy enough to add the items for them.

Arguably they are notable because they complete the list of all the winners for this award. Adding dates is icing on the cake..

On the English Wikipedia it is nice to link to the Reasonator for the award. It links to a Reasonator page for the awardees. It is how we can share in the sum of all available knowledge.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#Wikipedia - #redirects are a one trick pony

Wikipedia and Wikipedians have grown up with the "benefits" of redirects. It is why an article is also known by a different name. In Wikidata they can be labels.

Another use is to link a name to somewhere in an article where they are mentioned. When this finds its way in Wikidata it is assumed that proper information is available on the subject in that Wikipedia article.

Wrong. When you read a Wikipedia article, it is full of all kinds of references from the subject. All of these references are also available in Reasonator in the concept cloud. Many of the references are available in statements and they in turn are available on the referred to qualifiers as well.

What something like Reasonator could do is provide proper information for all the subjects that do not have an article and refer to articles when they exist. It currently links to other Reasonator pages but it is not hard at all to configure this to link to Wikipedia articles in the "current" language. This would be a redirect on steroids.

Monday, December 08, 2014

#Wikipedia- The numbers are what II ?

Numbers, statistics have a purpose. Their typical use is to have manager types consider how things are moving. Even though they have infinite wisdom there is not much that they can do when all numbers do is show trends.

The funny thing is that only the numbers that are collected are reflected in these trends. Wikidata for instance attracts no readers and consequently it may not be considered as a source of attention. It is a fallacy and it does not motivate people interested in Wikidata.

There are so many lists that could motivate people. Articles that need writing, differences in data between Wikipedias. The wonderful thing is that they all bring a sense of purpose and are an inspiration to improve both quality and quantity.

My favourite list is the list of zombies for 2014. Currently there are 400+ zombies that need to be killed of. It motivates because I know what to do and it is a convenient way to find categories of information that can easily be imported in Wikidata.

Statistics, numbers can motivate people to be more effective. That is how you influence the numbers these manager types look at.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

#Wikipedia- The numbers are what ?

So the numbers are flat.. You want initiatives that help provide us with relevance.. Ok, how about this scenario:

A reader queries Wikipedia for a subject and does not find it. Many more people query for this subject and it becomes the most wanted subject without an article. An editor writes the article and it proves popular. It becomes the most read new article in the next month.

In this way:
  • we give our search statistics a purpose
  • we indicate what subjects our readers want articles about
  • we celebrate the most read new articles and their editors
  • we advertise that we ask our editors to write articles people are looking for
  • we can do this for every Wikipedia in every language
Yes, we can provide search results from Wikidata as well. When people make use of this, it counts as a not found instance. In the mean time we did provide information that is available to us.

#Wikidata - KCG College of Technology

Thank you Google
A friend of mine studied at one of the engineering colleges in India. He now works for the Wikimedia Foundation and, he rocks.

There are articles for many of these colleges and they all could do with some loving attention from the people who study or studied there.

How about adorning the items in Wikidata with the name in an Indian script. How about adding an image. It will show in Reasonator on all the people who studied or taught there..

#Wikipedia - reaching out for #ebola

When people are not well informed about ebola, they panic. It is therefore ever so important to get the message out and get the message right. The right information is particularly important for the people who live with ebola, who see the effects first hand.

They live in Africa, in countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. A study shows that the most used source for information in these countries about ebola is Wikipedia.

For these people many of the things we take for granted are a dream. When you know about Gapminder, you know things are improving and not as bleak as they seem. People are living longer, getting educated and infrastructure is improving. It is why Wikipedia also thanks to Wikipedia Zero is reaching these parts others do not reach as effectively.

Wikipedia is effective thanks to the dedication of its volunteers, particularly those who ensure the quality of medical articles. Wikipedia comes cheap. It is the best investment in bringing knowledge to a world that is sometimes desperate for great basic and actionable information.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

#Wikidata - #Bangladesh #University of #Engineering and Technology

The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology currently knows 16 people who studied there. Two of them were in a category that had not yet been created.  In theory 16 articles are waiting for them to be added to this category. In addition, someone may want to categorise the category..

The good news in all this:
  • Wikidata can be used to populate Wikipedia categories
  • people are actively adding information in Wikidata first
  • by adding students and faculty in Wikidata, people are connected and consequently the universities and colleges get exposure
  • Maybe, my call to the college boys and girls is heard by some of them

Friday, December 05, 2014

#Wikipedia - #Russia and the #USA

Yesterday I wondered when Russia will become the champion users of Wikipedia. Today I noticed a presentation with the numbers.. Traffic to Wikipedia from the USA is down by -8.6% while the annual growth of Wikipedia traffic from Russia is +10.3%. A difference of almost 20%.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

#Wikipedia - #Russia #rules OK

English Wikipedia is still the biggest. The Russian Wikipedia however is growing much faster. It replaced the Germans, the Spanish and the Japanese to become the second biggest Wikipedia. When it continues to grow like this it will overtake English Wikipedia.

There is one question in the back of my head... When you consider only the traffic from the USA for the English Wikipedia, and Russia for the Russian Wikipedia, how will they compare ? How long will it take for Russia to overtake the USA as the champions of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

#Wikimedia and its content delivery

The #vision is "share in the sum of all knowledge" and all our projects contain a wealth of information. The infra structure, the software that brings this information is at this time very much centred on the two ends of delivery. It is in the data centres and it is in the last mile.

The effort of the last mile is the Wikipedia Zero project; This wonderful project brings information at no cost to the mobile phones of people who use the services of cooperating mobile operators. The content they use comes from the WMF datacentres in the USA and, that is suboptimal.

It is suboptimal because it takes time to get that data from the first world data centres of the WMF. It is suboptimal because the pipes are often oversubscribed. The consequence is that the service is not as good as it easily could be.

With a "content delivery network", this information is kept locally and it is only the updates that have to come and go all the way to the central servers in the USA.  This is a lot less data for those pipes, it is a lot cheaper to operate for our cooperating mobile operators in Wikipedia Zero and the quality of service will improve a lot.

There are no technical reasons why the WMF cannot do this. All that I see is personal preferences and possibly some legal issues. The WMF has the experience because of its servers in Amsterdam. It should be relatively easy to mimic this at the sites of our cooperating mobile operators. Alternatively we could pay commercial rates and do it ourselves.

A lot of effort is invested in making Wikipedia, MediaWiki perform better. This is another obvious improvement that will make a big difference not only to our Wikipedia Zero users but for everyone who uses our projects outside of the USA and much of Europe.