Thursday, December 12, 2019

Disseminate science says @EstherNgumbi, @Wikimedia projects have the power to do just that

In this day and age science is of the utmost importance. When I am pointed to a conference where an African scientist gives the plenary lecture; the message is on display in the picture. I take an interest.

When you want to disseminate research, when you want the science to be known by society, you have to pick your platform. You can do worse than choosing for the Wikimedia projects.

Professor Esther Ngumbi is employed at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Her ORCiD profile has only one paper but at Wikidata we knew of others. As she is now known at Wikidata with her papers, she has a Scholia. At first there was only one co-author, a bit sparse, so others were added. They were linked to the papers they have on Wikidata. The same was done for some authors who cited professor Ngumbi..

When you, your science is known in Wikidata, you are more likely to get a Wikipedia article and yes, working for an American university helps. An ORCiD profile that is open will be even more potent when you trust organisations like your university, CrossRef to update your ORCiD when it knows about your papers, your new papers.

In this day and age where our ecology is no longer stable, it is vital to know and respect the science. While we aim for the best we have to be prepared for the worst; we have to see it coming. It is why our Wikimedia projects should inform about all the science and not just what a Wikipedia article has as a reference.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Jack needs help, so do we and, so do our audiences

Jack penciled his aspirations for Twitter in a tweet. In it he states: "... Second, the value of social media is shifting away from content hosting and removal, and towards recommendation algorithms directing one’s attention. Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives. Yet."

It is good news that Jack seeks a way out, he intends to hire a "small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers" and "Twitter is to become a client of this standard"..

In the Wikimedia projects we have similar challenges and opportunities. We cannot expect for all kinds of reasons that scientists who are very much in the news (aka relevant) there to be a Wikipedia article Dr Tewoldeberhan is a recent example but there is no reason why we cannot have her, her work and the work of any other scientist in Wikidata. With tools like Scholia we already have a significant impact by making more known that just what may be found in a Wikipedia. Jack, we do know many scientists by their Twitter handle, they already make the case for their science on Twitter. This makes it easy for you to link to and expand on Scholia. What we give our readers is more to read so that they can find conformation for what they read.

Jack, Wikidata is not proprietary, Scholia is not proprietary and the Wikimedia motto is "to share in the sum of all knowledge". Together we can shift focus from what we have read before in the Wikipedias to what there is to read on the Internet. Put stuff in context and bring the scientists who care to inform about their science in the limelight.

What we do not have is the pretense that we cover everything well. we do aim to cover everything notable well. What we provide is static, Twitter is much more dynamic and together we will change the landscape. Great technology combined with both the Twitter and Wikimedia communities has the potential of being awesome.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

What is it about Jess Wade?

It is not only that Jess writes Wikipedia articles. Others do as well. It is not only that she engages girls with science; it is why she enthuses about female (STEM) scientists. Others do as well. It is not that only that her tweets engage us with for instance the #PhotoHour, that she wants us to read the (fabulous) books by Angela Saini, she also organises for schools to have Inferior in their library for girls to read and become a scientist as well.. What makes her special is that she engages people to be part of what she communicates so well.

Take me for instance, Jess is on Twitter and I read her daily new article. For the person she writes about I enrich the information on Wikidata and ensure that the "authority control" is set in the Wikipedia article. What I add is award information, authorities, employment and education info. I often add awards and depending on how interesting an award is to me I add other recipients as well.

It is not only me, there are many more people inspired by Jess who get involved, they read the books she champions, donate so that more girls read Inferior, follow her on Twitter, write articles and also get involved, are involved. It all happens because of the enthusiasm that Jess brings to us all. This enthusiasm, the involvement is what I so cherish. When the inevitable naysayers come along it dampens the positivity, the sense that we are making a difference.

When you want to know how important the women she writes about can be, consider Joy Lawn she tweets really effectively as well... It shows how women scientists really effectively communicate the relevance of science. It is vitally important for us to know about the science, the subjects they champion. At that it may be our Jess but actually, it is Dr Jess Wade, she is a scientists first, she promotes science and Wikipedia is a vehicle to get the message out.

Friday, November 29, 2019

It is not a list when it is the result of a query

A list is a presentation of data. When a list is maintained manually, the list IS the data, when the data is the result of a query, it REPRESENTS the data.

The difference is quite important. Changing the information in a query is in the definition of the query, changing the data is a matter of re-running the query. Changing the information in a list is a lot of work and therefore there is no integrity in the data itself, it is always potluck what quality the data is.

In the Wikipedia world, Listeria is king of the queried lists. For some its use is controversial but things are changing for the better. Projects like Women in Red use Listeria a lot, their work is possible because people add notable women in Wikidata. The queries work on the basis of awards, professions, nationality enabling volunteers to write the articles they care to write. This works because once an article is written they are automagically removed from the lists.

On the English Wikipedia consensus has it that manual lists are to be preferred. However, emperically the quality of automated lists perform better {{REF}} and as data in Wikidata does not suffer from "false friends" even the support for "red links" is vastly superior.

There is no point in anecdotal evidence who is best. When the English Wikipedia has a black link for Stephen Fleming on its page for the Spearman medal first, it is an obvious start for a new item on Wikidata that is more than just a person who won the Spearman medal. It then becomes a target for lists of the special interest groups who aim to cover "their" subject matter well.

The next stage of the acceptance of lists relies on the realisation that "consensus" does not serve us well particularly when it trumps established facts. It will serve us well in politics and, in what Wikimedia projects could be.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Please let us support #Science at @Wikidata

When the BBC informs us about reforestation in Ethiopia.. It is Dr Tewolde-Berahan who informs BBC's Justin Rowlatt about the work that is done in preparation of planting trees.

It is a humorous piece of information that gets the message across; you can plant where trees were absent for generations and make the (local) climate change.

Consider; you now want to seriously know more about reforestation in Ethiopia. Where do you go to? Wikipedia, in all its magnificence, is rooted in its articles and thereby dated. Through its references however, there are links to its authors, to many more authors and their publications. Every article has in this way its concept cloud and it could be translated in a Scholia for an article.

The current Scholias are itself already a rabbit hole that leads in many directions and a Scholia for an article would be something different again. The article links to subjects, has its papers and by inference authors, they may link to newer papers, more papers, contradicting papers. They may lead to scientists who research similar notions for another locality.. Why not reforest Spain in France? When reforestation is possible in Ethiopia, what would be different to make this unfeasible in Europe?

And all this becomes possible when you consider Wikipedia as the jumping off point in any and all directions, not just within Wikipedia..

NB I know there are two fellows of the Ethiopian Academy of Science related to this subject. Who are they and how are they connected to Dr Tewolde-Berahan?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

@wikidata - I don't scale, help me scale

At Wikidata there is always more to do and as a volunteer you make the biggest impact when you concentrate on specific subjects. I do not scale enough to do everything I would like to do.

There are a few area's where I aim to make a difference; of particular concern is where we do not represent a body of knowledge/information in Wikidata. At this time the favour scientists particularly women, young scientists and scientists from Africa.

To make my work scale, I twitter and blog. I latch on to the great work done by Dr Jess Wade. She writes articles on well deserving scientists and I aim to add value for those scientists on Wikidata. Typically I add professions, alma maters, employers and awards. In addition I add "authorities" like ORCiD, Google Scholar and VIAF. This is important because it enables the linking of scholarly papers already in Wikidata or known at ORCiD. I can more or less keep up with Jess and, I happily add information for any and all scientists I come across on Twitter.

While doing this I learned of the Global Young Academy and as a side project started adding scientists who are member of the GYA or one of affiliated organisations to Wikidata. I am so pleased  I got into contact with Robert Lepenies. Robert is happy with the opportunity that a Scholia provides for an organisation like the GYA, for him and for all the young scientists involved. We collaborated on completing the lists on many wikipedias, Robert added many scientists to Wikidata and is now battling to keep the pictures of these young scientists on Commons...

What is crucially important for me is that Robert advocates an open ORCiD profile to scientists worldwide so that they may have their Scholia. Both Robert and I do not scale and what would help us most is an easy and obvious way that enables any scientists to start a process that will include all his papers from ORCiD, will update the known co-authors and instruct in what they can do to enrich their Wikidata / ORCiD / Scholia profile even more.

I am now working on African scientists and yes, I would appreciate some help.

PS my wife would like this scale to be enough for me

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Instant gratification at @Wikidata

As I write this, it is 11:46am at 09:26am I added papers to prof Hafida Merzouk. The edits are picked up by Reasonator but not by Scholia. In a similar way, edits done are not picked up by Listeria.

Instant gratification is now a thing of the past, the work done at Wikidata may eventually be picked up in a Scholia or Listeria but it is not funny. Can I tweet about the things I find or have done when Wikidata no longer reflects the relevant changes?

This may sound like trivial but it does mean that when I look back at my work that  there is no longer a timely way to do so.

Instant gratification motivates and it is a factor in maintaining quality. We are losing it.