Monday, June 29, 2015

#Wikidata - كيفين بيكن and the #Syrian #refugees

When you consider the size of the camps where Syrian refugees are kept, the people lose their face, are no longer seen as individuals. But exactly because of the size, there must be professors, engineers, soccer stars and actors among them. Seen in that light Mr كيفين بيكن is not that far away from any of them.

I am sure that for all them it is a "significant event" to be in such a camp. Would it make a difference when we knew for many refugees how "near" they are to Mr Bacon? Would it convince you that these people need food, drink, shelter and schooling for their children?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

#Wikidata - #Vara and the J.B. Broekszprize

Awards are funny. They are presented with a lot of fanfare. They show the relevance of a subject; the reason why the award is presented and the person who the person is presented to. However, it takes effort and money to maintain an award and often the needed stamina simply disappears.

The J.B. Broekszprize was awarded by the VARA at least until 1996. The award was given to people and organisations who "humanised society". It is obvious that this effort was recognised at the time and, to understand the relevance of people and organisations it is great to know about awards like this.

At Wikidata we can and do recognise awards. People are added just because they received an award. Sometimes, it seems obvious that a person like Rob Hof is the 1995 winner of the award. But it needed some research to make sure that he was. Not even the Beeld en Geluid Wiki knew about Mr Hof..

Awards point to the legacy of people and organisations. They add relevance to both and they help in understanding an era that has come and gone.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

#Wikidata - #Hillary Rodham Clinton II

Mrs Clinton has been the recipient of many awards. The current count at Wikidata is at 23 and, it is quite an impressive list.

There is one funny bit in there, you have to know Dutch to spot this loonie. Mrs Clinton has been awarded several honorary doctorates. The screen shot shows nicely that there are two items for the same thing. You may see one for the University of St Andrews and one for Yale University.

Obviously the two could be merged. One reason why I won't is because Reasonator does not show redirects nicely and I do not want to lose all that information.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#Wikidata - #Hillary Rodham Clinton

Mrs Clinton will obviously be a topic of many conversations. It is probably the best annotated USA presidential candidate on Wikidata. It is best looking at it from a Reasonator perspective because there is so much that you would drown in all of it on Wikidata itself.

When you look at the screenprint, you see a lot of text that was generated based on the currently available data. When you look at it, you may find that she received a Grammy award as well. I am certain that even though the information is extended, it is not complete. There are even technical issues to be found that need to be sorted in Wikidata itself.

When you complete all the data and all the interconnections to Mrs Clinton, one thing is sure. Many more people will be that much closer to Kevin Bacon. It would be interesting to learn how Mrs Clinton compares to the other candidates. Who will bring more people closer to Mr Bacon?

#Wikidata - #Amnesty International and the Dr. J.P. van Praag-award

Amnesty is one of the organisations I consider essential in this world. It is known for its work on human rights and it will tell any country where it fails in its commitments or in its actions. It is a participatory organisation and it is up to anyone to choose their levels of commitment.

Organisations are awarded for their work and I have added several of them spurred on by a friend who added the Dr J.P van Praag award to Amnesty. Typically I only add awards to people. It is easier and there are fewer false positives.

Reading the Dutch article, the question arose if Amnesty was indeed the beneficiary of this award. The text says in Dutch.. "Amnesty International (afdeling Nederland) voor haar werk voor gewetensgevangenen.". It says that it is the Dutch chapter who was awarded the award.

Given that other Amnesty chapters have items in Wikidata, it was easy to add one for the Dutch chapter and make it the recipient for the award. It follows that people tagged as member of Amnesty are actually member of the local chapter ... :)

NB I would not be surprised when more awards have been given to Amnesty, much of this may be found in articles in languages I do not read.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#Wikidata - #OSA The Optical Society

In a previous post I wrote that I wanted to have all the awards of the Optical Society in Wikidata. I now admit that I failed.

The Optical Society has many awards and only some of them are known to Wikidata at this point. The funny part is that Wikidata knows about one more award than English Wikipedia does. It is an award conferred both by the Optical Society and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.

I did add most of the people who received an award but given that so many did not have an article it was not of interest to me to add all the missing ones. Maybe it is of interest to the Optical Society to complete information about itself and its awards..

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#Wikidata - the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award

When you, like me, had never heard of biophotonics, you would never have heard about the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award. As it is an award by the Optical Society and I wanted its list of awards to be complete I added yet another award.

The subject must be rather new because there is no image on the biophotonics article. The award linked to Mr Feld so there is room for improvement on English Wikipedia.

What I have done is add all the current winners of the award on Wikidata and Mr Tromberg, the winner for 2015. was the only one with an article. Yes, the award is still missing on the article.

NB As I complete more awards, the results of the Kevin Bacon challenge will change. It is fun.

Monday, June 22, 2015

#Wikipedia - business as usual is not an option

The New York Times featured an article titled: "Can Wikipedia Survive?" by Andrew Lih. It is a good article in that it describes the current state of Wikipedia. It raises several important points and the main one is that because of smartphones and tablets many people do not contribute as much as they used to.

Articles like that describe the status quo. The issues that seem important based on the old understanding of what Wikipedia is about. The older understanding was: "To share the sum of all knowledge" the current situation is that there are 280+ Wikipedias and each is on its own to do its own thing using the MediaWiki software. There are other projects that contribute to the old motto but they were outside of the scope of the article.

When you reflect on the original objective, all Wikipedias fail. Every Wikipedia has its own content and is distinct in what it has to say. Consequently they do not share the sum of all knowledge; they are not even aware of the knowledge that is available elsewhere.

When you analyse Wikipedia, it has several components; there are accumulations of text and there are accumulations of data. There have been experiments that show clearly that it is not always necessary for a person to write the text. The experience from several Wikipedias is that bot generated content leads to more readers and more editors. This is quite counter intuitive but hey, why dispute the facts? If there is one draw back, it is with updating said texts when need be.

We know that once enough data is available for a subject information may be gleaned from raw data. Wikidata provides raw data and Reasonator among others transforms it into information. This may finally be accepted when the overly long awaited Wikidata Query engine will become available.

What this may do is several things.
  • people will want to add items and statements to Wikidata
  • results will pop up everywhere once the facts are in
  • more software will be written to produce texts based on Wikidata data
  • articles generated in this way may be cached without saving the text
  • generated articles will change once more facts are known
This is not rocket science. It has been done before. The only question is does sufficient motivation to accept changes to Wikipedia exist. As Andrew Lih so eloquently asks "Can Wikipedia Surive?" the answer seems obvious. Wikipedia has to change in order to survive. This approach will help us improve content in any language.

#Wikidata - #People who died in 2015

I stopped registering the dead of 2015. I am happy with the result so far. People still die in 2015 and the number of people who are still waiting to be killed of has not increased that much.

The stress I felt to work on Wikidata is gone. I do more work in the house and when I work on Wikidata it is on things I actually enjoy.

Thanks to everyone who now registers the deaths of 2015 you make me feel happy.

#Wikidata - #IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award

The IEEE or the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is an organisation that confers many different awards. One of them is the IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award

Adding the known Wikipedia articles is easy, they have their Wikidata item, it is just a matter of linking the two. Making a complete list is not as easy. According to the article, the data from 1986 to 2001 is missing and, only one of the winners after 2001 is linked to an article.

Mr Hiroshi Iwai is the winner for 2015 and, to make sure that he is on the list, I searched for him. Before I added him to Wikidata, I disambiguated another using Google translate to learn the date of death of one of the Mr Iwai's

The missing data is available; it is on the official website in a PDF. It is easy to make a list of all the people who have been awarded this prize

Sunday, June 14, 2015

#Wikidata - Drs. P

Drs P or Heinz Hermann Polzer was a flamboyant Dutch author, artist. His texts, his songs are hilarious and he was well loved by many. Drs P came to my school and it was certainly one of the concerts I loved most in my life.

Today I learned that Drs P died. In order to reduce the number of degrees to Kevin Bacon, I spend some effort in his honour and added many of his well deserved awards.

#Wikidata - Dutch people who died in 2015

The bot that updates the list of Dutch people who died in 2015 will update the list when details are added. This recent diff shows how relevant this is. For many people additional details were added like the place of death,

Given attention to such details is relevant if only because of the several tools that link places in this way to visualisations. :)

#Wikidata - Six degrees - Edmund Bacon

Edmund Bacon has two sons known to Wikidata; Kevin and Michael. By adding information to the father, fewer steps will remain between Kevin Bacon and many other items. To add information I read the article and was able to add one school and two awards.

One of these awards, the Frank P. Brown Medal was awarded to several truly great architects. I am sure there is an easy connection between some of them and Rem Koolhaas. Mr Koolhaas was the architect to the City Center of Almere where I live :)

In the mean time, Popcorndude rose to the challenge and came up with the first routine to calculate how many degrees of separation exist between any Wikidata item and Kevin Bacon. His answer for Julius Caesar is 5.

I applaud the effort, the challenge now is to make this functionality available to ordinary people like me. I want to run this routine and see how I can improve connections. After all, the six degrees of separation has it that there are no more than six.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#Wikidata - six degrees of separation of Kevin Bacon

There is this famous game where everyone is said to be no more than six steps away from Kevin Bacon. There is even an article about it.

It struck me that it would be nice to know how far away any Wikidata item is from Mr Bacon. The original game is about other actors and makes use of the IMDb but there is no reason not to use Wikidata. One reason to use Wikidata is to see how the shortest paths to Mr Bacon can be optimised.

One obvious way is to document everything there is to know about Mr Bacon.. like that he had a father. It opens up the world of architecture to Mr Bacon..

Adding information is one thing, it takes boffins to come up with a routine that finds the shortest path. I am sure they are competent, for them it may only be a matter of being challenged.. The great thing is that the combination of adding relations and boffins will make for many challenges, for instance how to link Mr Bacon to Genghis Khan or Julius Caesar with the shortest path.

#Wikidata - The Princess of Asturias Awards III

As I mentioned before, the Princess of Asturias Award used to be called differently.  It has awards in different areas and as you can see in the illustration, the change in names has had its effect in some but not in other parts.

It is easy to understand why issues like this arise. Most people or organisations received the "prince of Asturias award" so it is utterly confusing why it can no longer be shown. On the other hand the award is now called the "princess of Asturias award" and it makes sense to make that name change.

Anyway, it is a flaw in Wikidata that this cannot be properly addressed.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

#Wikidata - a #banana is a #fruit

I read that Alan Bond died. He was quite famous for many reasons. He was a businessman that got caught and it is why the Wikidata description reduces him to "Australian fraudster".

It reminded me of the critique for a particular fruit to be called a fruit. This was done by using automated descriptions. The one thing forgotten in this critique is that a banana is therefore a fruit in any language. Mr Bond is only an Australian fraudster according to a text that is only there in English. Wikidata does not corroborate it. It does not mention the other things he achieved. It did not even mention that he was married..

Ah well, what to say. I am sure that when Mr Bond was still alive he would laugh wryly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#Wikidata - The Princess of Asturias Awards II

Stephen Hawking received many awards. Given that Wikidata registers such things, it is no wonder given Mr Hawking's prominence that some 27 have been registered.for him.

One of them was the "Princess of Asturias Awards". It is however a grouping of awards not a single one. Mr Hawking received the "Princess of Asturias Award - concord" award. I did add this award to the item for Mr Hawking and I removed the grouping.

Some people disagreed because, the old statement was sourced. It did not matter that it was wrong, the only thing that mattered that it was sourced. Funnily enough it was pointed out to me that the source was right; it said that Mr Hawking received the concord award. It was just Wikidata that was wrong..

So I wonder what the value of a source statement is. It is apparently OK to indicate on Wikidata what it does NOT say on the source.  It is so confusing.. I am sure that when Mr Hawking hears about this he will just smile.

#Wikidata - the #Pope is no longer of the Roman Catholic faith?

When you are to believe some at Wikidata, the religion of pope Francis, the bishop of Rome is no longer "Roman Catholic". The argument is a beautiful one.. "Catholicism" is a religion and "Roman Catholic Church" is an institution... WOW..

It is as if all the differences in all the churches in Catholicism have been removed in one big gesture, it is as if ecumenism is finally happening because Wikidata says so..

Wikidata is immature and it can be noticed in squabbles like this. It is also a consequence of people who have no understanding of the subject matter imposing their views and talking exhaustively about the subject.

Well they are wrong. I am sure when pope Francis hears about this he will just smile.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

#Wikidata - what to do next

I stopped documenting recent deaths in Wikidata. I find I have withdrawal symptoms. It is the kind of work that is satisfying because you see the number of deaths in 2015 ever increasing. It is a challenge to keep up. The list that I used has grown by some 200.

I hope that the English Wikipedians who used to maintain their templates chose to step in to fill the void.

No, I will not tell my wife that I have more time to clean the house. I love Wikidata too much. However, I will do other things. Things were intervention makes a difference. It is great to have the tooling that Magnus created over time. For me it is the difference between doing something in a sane way and poking in the dark.

If there is one thing  many in the Wikidata community do not get it is that the time of volunteers is not cherished. There is no support nor understanding of the issues that exist. It is really ivory towery oh, oh, oh, the data is not good enough ... Let's move on and wait for the latest and greatest to magically appear. The "paper cuts" do not happen except for the hurt. There is no support for maintenance of the data and consequently the dead of 2015 are the least of our concern.

#Wikidata - The Princess of Asturias Awards

When improving quality is the name of the game, the Princess of Asturias Awards has several opportunities to have fun.

Like many other awards it is not singular in its scope. Many Wikipedias have articles for each category. Arguably the award is not the "Princess of Asturias Award" as some Wikipedias have it.

When the award was conceived, it was named after the prince who was next in line to become king of Spain. The Prince became king and he will be most likely be succeeded by a princess. It is why the name was changed. Wikidata is not smart enough to know that such name changes take place, It is why basic information like a name can be utterly confusing.

When you add information for this award, there is all the information added in good faith on the award itself. It is redundant but removing them means that the link to Wikipedia articles are lost.

Tough. Such links are what people expect of Wikidata..

Saturday, June 06, 2015

#Wikipedia - its tyranny of sources

Let us keep it simple; a credible source is a source that that provides good information. There are several aspects to it.
  • accurate
  • unbiased
  • timely
  • complete
A lot of research went into "proving" that Wikipedia is a credible source. Typically this was done by subject matter experts that examined a subset of articles. Usually a lot of "sources" coincided with credibility. 

The point was made repeatedly, Wikipedia is credible for its intended use.

Proving that Wikidata provides good information is different. It is incomplete; a lot of information is just not there. Twenty percent of its items provide no information. When sources are cited, it is Wikipedia that is referred to. Data like deaths in 2015 is no longer maintained. The pope, the bishop of Rome, has no longer the "Roman Catholic Church" as his faith.

Wikidata is immature and that is ok.

The approach to sources for Wikidata is tyrannical. It imposes sources for each statement and the suggestion is that this will make it credible. When you consider the sheer number of statements and the speed at which they increase it is impossible to see how that will work. It is well understood that having a source for a "fact" is one way to perpetuate a lie.

There is a better approach to proving Wikidata as a credible source. This is done in the same way as it was suggested that Wikipedia was credible; by comparing it to others like Brockhaus and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Much of the ground work is already there. We can compare to VIAF, to the GND. The point of this would not be that all our data is the same but that we care about quality and share the differences and research those. 

While we make our data as accurate as we can, we can continue to work on making our data complete. Any credible source including Wikipedia and by inference DBpedia qualifies. They qualify because they help us complete our data and do this in a timely way.

This process of adding data is iterative. We add, we check and research the differences. 

Every argument why we cannot do this or should wait denies Wikidata its credibility and worse the call to wait till the latest and greatest gadget comes online demotivates. The Wikipedia approach to sources is great for Wikipedia it just does not work for Wikidata.

Friday, June 05, 2015

#Wikidata - Albert West died

A friend of mine mentioned that Albert West died. He mentioned it because his death would be listed on the list of Dutch people who died in 2015.  As this list is on my watch list, I checked to see if he was on it. He was not.

Nobody had bothered to add his death yet.

I have done a decent job on Mr West, I added some additional information and the fact that he died. He will be on the list the next time when the list is updated.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

#English #Wikipedia and those who died in #2015

It is wonderful news and I am grateful that the English Wikipedia decided to use Wikidata in stead of its own templates. It is wonderful, they have realised that the good people at Wikidata maintain that data..

I did it with pleasure, and I am thrilled to learn that the data is of high quality and up to date. I made it so because copying dates from English into Wikidata is easiest and therefore I always did them first the past two years.

The move of the English Wikipedia to use Wikidata data has been used as an excuse NOT to use the data harvested by DBpedia. That argument is wrong for three reasons.

  • they update information in real time by harvesting from the RSS feed.
  • they do this not only for the English Wikipedia
  • they do not rely on a poor sod who adds info by hand
PLEASE, make use of the DBpedia data and please do consider the DBpedia people as part of our world. Let us learn from what they learned and make use of what they so gladly want to share with us. Share with us on our terms, share with us using our license.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

#Wikidata - Jurandyr Noronha died in 2015

Mr Noranha died on 2015-05-10. Mr Noranha was active in the movie industry so he is known in the IMDB database.

People die all the time but with the list functionality Jura1 created a page for "Brazilian people who died in 2015" dead Brazilians have an added significance. Mr Noranha qualifies..

At issue is that while Mr Noranha is known to Wikidata, it still takes a person to make a manual statement about his final day. I have done that for a year but I find that I am falling more and more behind. I do not even make a statement for Mr Noranha to be a Brazilian.

One thing that is not motivating is that I KNOW that this information is there for Wikidata to be had. The wonderful people at DBpedia really want to share this with Wikidata. Not much happens and as it ism my enthusiasm is wavering and my precious free time that is in demand for other things as well..

So what to do..

Monday, June 01, 2015

#Wikidata - Jos Panhuijsen a #Dutch #author

Mr Panhuijsen is a celebrated author; he received the F. Bordewijk Prize in 1959.There is no article for him on any Wikipedia and to be honest, I do not care that is not my game. It is for someone else to do.

Adding Mr Panhuijsen to Wikidata however is something that I do care about. He is one of three missing authors that received the Bordewijk Prize and now he does show on the Reasonator page in the timeline and as one in a list of sixty recipients.

Adding Mr Panhuijsen, van Beek and Simhoffer makes as much sense as having red links in Wikipedia. Even more so because they will show in any and all Wikipedia when used with the magnificent list tool created by Magnus.