is the Wikipedian in residence
at the OCLC
, which is a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Max runs VIAFbot
, this is the bot that has added VIAF
identification to people who have a record in Wikidata
. Who would be better placed to ask what this is all about? So enjoy
Please describe what VIAF is and why it is relevant
We've all joked about what it would be like if people had
numbers instead of names. The funny thing is though it would be much
more convenient to organize our information about people if we did have
numbers as well as names. National Libraries have already
done this behind the scenes to make the reader's life easier. It's just
that each National Library did it independently, so VIAF (the Virtual
International Authority File) matches the National Libraries to each
In Wikidata links to VIAF and other repositories are mentioned why is this done.
Wikidata, however great and revolutionary it will be, is not
the first big online database. What's cooler than any one big online
database, is connecting their records up with "same-as" and other
relation, so we can use the databases together. Putting VIAF
IDs in Wikidata allows operations between the two databases.
What kind of information do people get when they click on a VIAF number in Wikipedia or Wikidata
When you open a VIAF link you see all the information that
National Libraries have about that person. Usually this includes details
of their life, like dates, and the titles they wrote.
Wikidata, Wikipedia, VIAF etc all have their own data, how do differences get reconciled
One constant annoyance I have is that in algorithmically
matching records there is always a small error rate. That means I'm
constantly getting messages of records to correct. Luckily with Wikidata
or Wikipedia, the user can just edit the record to make
it right. It's my challenge to watch those changes and see if I need to
correct another source like VIAF.
How relevant is Wikidata as a data repository
Wikidata is going to be vastly, hugely, unimaginably important.
We gave up on trying to give a structured representation of the world
some years ago because it was just too big a task. That was before
Wikipedia proved a method of doing big tasks. A fantasy
could be realized with Wikidata.
What does it take to gain relevance for Wikidata
Wikidata will become not just relevant but crucial in subtle
way when researchers and programmers start using it as an knowledge base
for Artificial Intelligence.
How important is it that Wikidata serves so many languages
That's always difficult for me to think of as a Native English
speaker. But when I recognize the danger of assuming an English-only
world, I realize I'm the most important person to be
multilingual-sensitive, since I have the least interest in being so.
How extended is information about the "third world" in VIAF
I don't know precisely. My research shows that VIAF is only
slightly less sexist than Wikipedia, but basically just as sexist.
It's a hypothesis then that it's just at biased about not including "third
When Wikidata has information missing in VIAF, is it interested?
I would hope so, and I am working on it. In some cases Wikidata
has more information that VIAF is missing, than VIAF has information
that Wikidata is missing.
Can we trust VIAF to keep its information
If It's good enough for the Library of Congress, Deutsche
National Bibliothek, Bibliotecheque nationale de France, and about 20
more, I'd hope it would be trust worthy enough for the Wikimedia