As noted last week by AuditCom chair Stu West.
Gathered by the Generalist.
Filed under: international,knowledge,popular demand,Uncategorized,wikipedia
A year after its announcement as the first new Wikimedia project since 2006, Wikidata has now begun to serve the over 280 language versions of Wikipedia as a common source of structured data that can be used in more than 25 million articles of the free encyclopedia.
By providing Wikipedia editors with a central venue for their efforts to collect and vet such data, Wikidata leads to a higher level of consistency and quality in Wikipedia articles across the many language editions of the encyclopedia. Beyond Wikipedia, Wikidata’s universal, machine-readable knowledge database will be freely reusable by anyone, enabling numerous external applications.
”Wikidata is a powerful tool for keeping information in Wikipedia current across all language versions. Before Wikidata, Wikipedians needed to manually update hundreds of Wikipedia language versions every time a famous person died or a country’s leader changed. With Wikidata, such new information, entered once, will automatically appear across all Wikipedia language versions. That makes life easier for editors and makes it easier for Wikipedia to stay current.” – Sue Gardner
The development of Wikidata began in March 2012, led by Wikimedia Deutschland, the German chapter of the Wikimedia movement. Since Wikidata.org went live on October 30, a growing community of around 3,000 active contributors started building its database of ‘items’ (e.g. things, people or concepts), first by collecting topics that are already the subject of Wikipedia articles in several languages. An item’s central page on Wikidata replaces the complex web of language links which previously connected these articles about the same topic in different Wikipedia versions. Wikidata’s collection of these items now numbers over 10 million. The community also began to enrich Wikidata’s database with factual statements about these topics (data like the mayor of a city, the ISBN of a book, the languages spoken in a country, etc.). This information has now become available for use on Wikipedia itself.
“It is the goal of Wikidata to collect the world’s complex knowledge in a structured manner so that anybody can benefit from it. Whether that’s readers of Wikipedia who are able to be up to date about certain facts or engineers who can use this data to create new products that improve the way we access knowledge.” - Denny Vrandečić, Wikidata project lead
The next phase of Wikidata will allow for the automatic creation of lists and charts based on the data in Wikidata. Wikimedia Deutschland will continue to support the project with an engineering team that is dedicated to Wikidata’s second year of development and maintenance.
Wikidata is operated by the Wikimedia Foundation and its fact database is published under a Creative Commons 0 public domain dedication. Funding of Wikidata’s initial development was provided by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence [AI]², the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Google, Inc.
More information available here:
Volunteers can get involved with Wikidata in many ways. Some of the first applications demonstrating the potential of Wikidata applications, and as a platform:
- The simia “tree of life” drawn from relations among biological species in Wikidata’s database
- “GeneaWiki” generates a graph showing a person’s family relations as recorded in Wikidata. See for example: the Bach family
Wikidata, the newest Wikimedia Project, is now in very active development, and being used on all of the Wikipedias. Here for instance is the item record for Pope Francis:
We haven’t resolved systemic biases yet, but this is one sign of the value of focusing on neutrality and a common goal:
The study results were discussed among researchers back in November.
ᔥ the L.A.Times
I had never heard of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy before they started harrassing and legally threatening my friend Mako Hill. But they are clearly an organization that understands neither cross-cultural communication nor diplomacy.
There is also no possible outcome of this dispute that is in their favor. The Streisand effect can’t be reversed by filing law suits. Filing law suits will never make a diplomacy institute look good. And Wikipedia policy isn’t structured in such a way that it could ever have an article about them after this without mentioning the drama in the first place – even if enough editors one day changed their minds about notability.
Update: Cory D. was thoughtful enough to put up a note about the case on BoingBoing.
Filed under: international,knowledge,popular demand,Uncategorized,wikipedia
The various threads around Hypothes.is, the Open Annotation spec, and the campus-wide annotation projects at MIT, Yale, and Harvard are starting to converge. It’s nice to see a future pillar of the global web take shape – with no less friction but a more diverse audience than gathered to create the early Internet specs.
I’m at the Convergence Workshop at Harvard on the topic today, and will be at the iAnnotate workshop in San Francisco in 3 weeks. Consolidating notes on a “Hypothesis XXX” hackpad. [Btw: We dearly need a fully open hackpad equivalent with more reliable uptime than piratepad et al.! I default to HP when I have a doc that needs to sustain heavy editing and be guaranteed available during a narrow window of time at a conference... but I would much rather use a Wikimedia or similarly hosted service, with a more explicit guarantee of ongoing availability, at no cost ever.]
Sue Gardner, the Wikimedia Foundation’s amazing Executive Director, recently announced plans to step down later this year, and has launched a search for her successor. She is one of the most insightful and collaborative voices in the movement, and a good friend. And she has led some of our most ambitious organizational and financial shifts: our focus on individual fundraising, the transition to a community-led funds dissemination process, and a growing attention to grantmaking. It is hard to imagine the Foundation without her…!!
We have been discussing this internally among the Board for a month now; and the transition planned is gradual: the search is expected to take til the end of this year. But I am still getting used to the idea; it has been a long and wonderful road we have travelled during her tenure. We are also reaching the end of our first round of long-term planning, so this year and next will be a good time for a new ED to help shape the Foundation’s future and how we frame our work.
A rundown of outside news coverage:
Business Insider - The Woman Who Made Wikipedia Huge Is Stepping DownWebProNews - Sue Gardner To Depart Wikimedia Foundation, ‘Uncomfortable’ With Where Internet Is HeadingChronicle of Philanthropy - Head of Wikimedia’s Foundation Stepping DownSpeigel (Germany) - Sue Gardner: Wikipedia-Managerin will sich zurückziehenStern (Germany) - Wikipedia-Chefin Sue Gardner tritt zurückHeise (Germany) - Wikimedia braucht neue FührungFrankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) - Wikipedia-Chefin tritt zurückHandelsblatt (Germany) - Wikimedia-Stiftung braucht neuen ChefWirtschafte Woche (Germany) - Wikimedia-Stiftung braucht neuen ChefRP Online (Germany) - Wikipedia braucht eine neue FührungWAZ (Germany) - Wikipedia-Chefin kündigt Rücktritt anITEspresso (Spain) - La CEO de Wikimedia, Sue Gardner, abandona la organizaciónSilicon News (Spain) - La directora ejecutiva de la Fundación Wikimedia dice adiósDer Standard (Austria) - Wikimedia Geschäftsführerin Sue Gardner zieht sich zurückFuture Zone (Austria) - Wikimedia-Stiftung braucht neue FührungBasler Zeitung (Switzerland) - Wiki und die starke FrauDigital News (Greece) - Αποχωρεί η Sue Gardner από τη WikipediaRappler - Wikimedia’s Sue Gardner Stepping Down
One of the Wikipedia projects that has been developing slowly over the past two years is the Article Feedback Tool. In its first incarnation, it let readers rate articles with a star system (1 to 5 stars for each of the areas of being Well-Sourced, Complete, Neutral, and Readable).
The latest version of the tool, version 5, shifts the focus of the person giving feedback to leaving a comment, and noting whether or not they found what they were looking for. After some interation and tweaking, including an additional abuse filter for comments, it has recently been turned on for 10% of the articles on the English Wikipedia.
This is generating roughly 1 comment per minute; or 10/min if it were running on all articles. In comparison, the project gets around 1 edit per second overall. So if turned on for 100% of articles, it would add 15-20% to the editing activity on the site. This is clearly a powerful channel for input, for readers who have something to share but aren’t drawn in by the current ‘edit’ tabs.
What is the community’s response? Largely critical so far. The primary criticism is that the ease of commenting encourages short, casual/random/non-useful comments; and that it tends to be one-way communication [because there's no obvious place to find responses? this isn't necessarily so; replies could auto-generate a notice on the talk page of the related IP]. Many specific suggestions and rebuttals of the initial implementation have been made, some heard more than others. The implementation was overall not quite sensitive to the implications for curation and followthrough.
A roadmap that included a timeframe for expanding the tool from 10% to 100% of articles was posted, without a community discussion; so a Request for Comments was started by an interested community member (rather than by the designers). This started in mid-January, and currently has a plurality of respondents asking to turn the tool off until it has addressed some of the outstanding issues.
The impression of the developers, here as with some other large organically-developing feature rollouts, was not that they had gotten thorough and firm testing, but that editors were fighting over every detail, making communication about what works and why hard. Likewise there has been a shortage of good facilitators to take in all varieties of feedback and generate an orderly summary and practical solutions.
So how did things go wrong? Pete gets to the heart of it in his comment, where he asks for a clearer presentation of the project hopes and goals, measures of success, and a framework for community engagement, feedback, and approval:
I think it’s a mere mistake, but it does get frustrating because WMF has made this same mistake in other big technical projects…
What I’m looking for is the kind of basic framework that would encompass possible objections, and establish a useful way of communicating about them…
WMF managed that really well with the Strategic Planning process, and with the TOU rewrite. The organization knows how to do it. I believe if it had been done in this case, things would look very different right now…
It is our technical projects that are most likely to stumble at that stage – sometimes for many months – despite putting significant energy into communication.
Can we do something about it now? Like most of the commenters on the RfC, including those opposing the current implementation, I see a great deal of potential good in this tool, while also seeing why it frustrates many active editors. It seems close to something that could be rolled out with success to the contentment of commenters and long-time editors alike; but perhaps not through the current process of defining and discussing features / feedback / testing (which begs for confrontational challenge/response discussions that are draining, time-consuming, and avoid actually resolving the issues raised!).
I’ll write more about this over the coming week.
Aaron took his life yesterday. I am still finding it hard to believe.
His ongoing court case overshadows his death, so let me get that out of the way:
He was living through a two-year federal case which had only become more nightmarish since last year. (JSTOR stated it did not want a trial, and has steadily been releasing the PD articles in question and more for free public use; yet the prosecution, continuing its outrageous abuse of discretion, declined to settle and tripled their felony charges to cover up to 35 years in prison.)
Friends and family were helping him plan a campaign to spread the word about the unreasonableness and inequity of the trial. Its uncertainty was intensely stressful, even for those of us who lived only the tiniest fraction of it. As Lessig notes, the prosecutors – Stephen P. Heymann (and at times Scott L. Garland), working in Carmen M. Ortiz‘s Cybercrime unit – should be taking a long hard look in the mirror and asking themselves what they are doing with their lives.
Aaron was a dear friend, and one of the most decent men I have known. The only times I have seen him truly angry was in response to some social wrong; and he actively looked for ways to find and eliminate injustice. He always considered how to act morally – even when this meant being at odds with local social norms – and regularly paused at forks in his life to think about how to live so as to benefit society.
He kindled ideas from those nearby, and freely passed on his own. Made mistakes often and tried to learn from them, usually publicly. His transparency was a useful meterstick for me. Ages ago, when we first met, I remember him brainstorming ideas about community and wiki design with Zvi and me; about learning and unlearning, society and ideals, civics and collaboration. Once his curiosity was piqued about a subject he would pursue it until he could write about and explain it.
I spent last night with mutual friends who live now in his old apartment, in a room that was once his; remembering the many great projects he started and inspired – especially the little gems, the personal quirks and insights, the inspiring ideas that became single-purpose services, or calls to arms. (We never did start a dog-walking service for data, but the idea abides.) Rereading some of his writings, I remember the many opportunities missed for synthesis, reframing, and clarity – about how life works, and how to live it.
Everyone has idealized dreams — what would you do with an unlimited wish? — about long-term projects worth devoting one’s life to, to transform the world. Dreams cherished but rarely attempted. Aaron was the only person I felt completely comfortable sharing mine with. We had a little game: a couple times a year we would meet in a nameless cafe, and he would ask for ‘rabbinical’ advice on moral quandaries, and I would ask for ‘professional’ advice on realizing societal dreams. I don’t know that he needed my advice, but I always looked forward to his. There was usually at least one book suggestion from his endless reading list that answered an open question of mine. And no matter how grandiose the dream, he would understand, clarify, laugh, counterpoint, help tune mental models, and remind me to get to it. And we never had quite enough time.
I miss him very, very, very much. Part of my own future has gone missing too.
Somewhere, celestials are being taught to tune the cosmos.
Happy Public Domain Day! Today millions of works – everything made by people that died in 1942* and not previously public – enter the public domain in most of the world.**
For a more US-centric view, with a heavy dose of “what were we thinking when we set up current copyright law?” activism, see the Public Domain Day summary by Duke’s insightful Center for the Public Domain. They also track the Alternate Universe Public Domain list for the simple alternate universe in which copyright laws remained as they were in 1976. This is a harder thing to visualize each year, since in this alternate universe so many other things (anything published between 1923 and 1955) would already also be free.
* in most countries
** but not in the US. The ‘Sonny Bono’ CTE Act created a backlog that will all enter the public domain in 2019.
Filed under: chain-gang,international,knowledge,meta,metrics,wikipedia
We hope this added intelligence will give you a more complete picture of your interest, provide smarter search results, and pique your curiosity on new topics. We’re proud of our first baby step—the Knowledge Graph—which will enable us to make search more intelligent, moving us closer to the “Star Trek computer” that I’ve always dreamt of building. Enjoy your lifelong journey of discovery, made easier by Google Search, so you can spend less time searching and more time doing what you love.
In the near future, I expect both Google’s knowledge graph, and the increasing awareness of the usefulness of such graphs, to change the structure and scope of industrial-scale knowledge processing. Thanks to all those working on these tools and solutions; see you in 2013!
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,Not so popular,popular demand,wikipedia
Wikipedia reader are being asked to edit as part of a banner campaign — for the first time since perhaps 2003.
This is being done as part of the Thank You message we send out at the end of a campaign – something we can do quite early this year thanks to a successful fundraiser.
I’ve been pushing for something like this for a couple of years – I think it’s the most important thing we can do to refresh our communities of editors and change the sense readers have of what is and isn’t welcome. I want to see us do this on every project, all throughout the year (eventually combined with the new visual editor, of course; which is truly beautiful).
What do you think?
Here’s what the draft message looks like; suggestions for better wording or other variations are welcome.
Dear Wikipedia Readers: Thank You! Overwhelming support from Wikipedia users let us end our annual fund drive early. Your donations pay for the tools, infrastructure and programs that empower thousands of editors. We would like to introduce you to some of the dedicated volunteers who you empower when you donate. It is our hope that after you read or hear a few of their stories, you’ll want to join them in sharing your knowledge with the world by editing Wikipedia.
You can edit Wikipedia!
- Create articles. After signing up, you’ll be able to help Wikipedia grow by starting new encyclopedia articles.
- Add photos and video. Register an account and you can upload your freely licensed images
- and other media.
- Become a part of the Wikipedia community. Logging in means all your contributions are attributed to your username, helping you connect with other Wikipedia contributors.
Filed under: chain-gang,citation needed,gustatory,poetic justice,Seraphic,wikipedia
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,Seraphic,wikipedia
Huge props to the team working on this and the underlying parsoid. It’s still in Alpha, so it’s only on the English Wikipedia this week. And you have to turn it on via user prefs; and it wants good feedback, but it makes the old heart-cockles sing.
A crisp, thorough summary of recent proposals to fix copyright, from across the political and economic spectrum. Postrel makes some effort to put them in historical context, and links to other even more detailed overviews of past and present trends.
Filed under: citation needed,Glory, glory, glory,international,meta,metrics,Not so popular,Rogue content editor,wikipedia
A lovely short policy brief on designing a better copyright regime was published on Friday – before being quickly taken offline again. I’ve reposted it here with light cleanup of its section headings.
If you care at all about copyright and its quirks, this is short and worth reading in full.