Tuesday, October 01, 2019

What data is wrangled is obvious when its presentation is considered

When you watch a game, you want to know the score. When you have a favourite author, you want to know all his/her publications and when you hear about a place you want to know where it is. Easy.

Such data may be included in a repository like Wikidata and, in essence the data is still simple. You still want to know the score, the publications or the location, the question is how do you get the data in a format that makes sense.

People are really good at understanding data when it is in an agreeable format.. These are three format for the same data; a scientist in Wikidata. This is how Wikidata presents its data and imho the data is really hard to understand. This is the same data in Reasonator, it is a general purpose tool that shows data and its relations. It can be used for all kinds of data, it is my goto tool to get to grips with data related to one item. Finally Scholia presents data formatted in a way that makes sense for this scientist.

Given how awful the default presentation of Wikidata is, it is obvious why everyone teaching the use of Wikidata focuses on querying the data and therefore people seek/work on the results provided in what is their default tool. I typically focus on particular subjects, today it was Dr Shima Taheri, I added a reference, some publications and genders for her co-authors. To do this I am triggered by the presentation of the data in the tools I use.

The holy grail for Wikidata is the use of its data in Wikipedia info boxes. However, people are taught to query data and that approach does not align well with the data items you find in info boxes. So when the purpose of Wikidata is in Wikipedia info boxes, presentation needs to become a priority.

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