Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#Commons and #Wikidata - the architecture of the #Wikimedia storage of the meta data of #media files

Commons was created to centralise the storage of media files. When it started, MediaWiki was not able to use any media files in any Wikipedia, that came later. Only those files that could be used everywhere were included. As a result, strict rules are applied and the copyright laws of the whole world are considered.

Commons is scheduled to be included in the scheme of Wikidata. This is easy and obvious for much of the meta data that is involved. It will include for for instance the Mona Lisa who the artist is and, what institution takes care of that most famous painting. This information will be available in every language and when the labels have been added, it will be properly readable and searchable in that language.

With Wikidata integration, the data is no longer strongly associated with the "page" of the media file. Effectively it does no longer matter where the media file is located. What matters is that media files are annotated with Wikidata technology. As this strong association will no longer exist, it is possible to change the outlook from a Commons integration project to a media file integration project.

Some use-case scenarios:
  • a file has been marked for inclusion into Commons on the English Wikipedia because it fits the Commons criteria
  • a file has been marked for deletion on Commons as it no longer fits its criteria. It does fit the criteria for "fair use" on the English and other Wikipedias
  • a GLAM is interested to share its meta data and welcomes viewers of its media files that cannot be used in Wikimedia projects because of copyright restrictions
With a Wikidata integration it is just a matter of managing the values in the meta data. Many more media files will become available as a result of one common approach. The management of all this data will become easy and much more effective.

From a storage point of view, things will also become easier; all media files will need to be stored only once. The meta data of those files becomes available in any language and, the meta data will remain available even when the media file no longer is. Files restricted in a Wikimedia context may still be available through external sources.

Effectively a global approach to all media files will make us more effective in sharing them as part of the sum of all knowledge.

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