Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ponderings on a book: Flammable Australia The Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent

Books are often used as a reference in a scientific publication. As I often add "citations" to individual papers, I find that books are a headache. Wikidata only "knows" about this book through two book reviews. When you google the book there are two versions of the book. Open Library "knows" about both versions but has no readable version. What I need is a reference to only one chapter of the book.

The first thing I did was changed the reviews into reviews, add the book and linked the reviews to the book. Open Library knows about two versions of the book. I linked both versions to the same author and linked the 2001 version to Wikidata. Finally I added the chapter in a haphazard way to the paper I am working on.

It is unlikely that I will ever read the book and it is very likely that others will frown on the way I added the book to Wikidata. However, for me "level 0 of data quality" applies; with data available particularly linked data, it is much easier to find fault and improve on what is there. I know that a bot will format the ISBN-10 entry I included.

The one reason why I add books is because books linked to OpenLibrary may be read by a wider public. Obviously not all books are available at this time, but the cumulative effect of adding all the books, all these links enrich the ability to read, to share in the sum of available knowledge.

Thanks, GerardM

Sunday, May 09, 2021

The @Wikimedia's #endowment aim is to reduce risk.

When you assess risk, when the purpose of the Wikimedia's endowment is to ensure the future operation of Wikipedia and probably other projects like Commons as well, money is not the only risk to consider.

The current government of the USA operates in a way that poses no or little thread to the continued operation of the WMF. However, the USA is a two party system and the same can not be said when the Republican Party is to return to power. 

All the servers that run the Wikimedia projects are currently in the United States. With servers able to run the full stack of Wikimedia projects elsewhere, two objectives are served. 

  • up to date data becomes closer to the readers close to the new servers
  • the risk of an USA that turns on the Wikimedia Foundation is mitigated
The WMF does not need to use the endowment to make this happen. Given its current finances, it should be an operational decision.
Thanks,
        GerardM

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Wikipedia is a "Work in Progress"

In many ways Wikipedia reflects the world as both are ever evolving. Once an article is finished for the moment, it in effect becomes a time capsule comprised of text, images and references. All these sleeping beauties wait for an update that comes once the realisation sets in that the article is behind the times. With 6,290,486 articles, it is obvious that there is a Bell curve of articles ranging from "up to date" to "out of date". 

So far the "Watch list" has been reactive. There are a few areas that can indicate that an article needs attention because it may be out of date. Wikipedia articles have references, when a reference is a "scholarly article", it is normal when an article will be cited by future articles. These publication can strengthen or weaken the assertions made in a Wikipedia article.

In Wikidata there is a bot that continuously updates "scholarly articles" with its citations. When one of these articles is used as a reference in Wikipedia, it merits attention. This can be reflected both on a Watch list and on the article itself.

Having the latest literature available will help settling disputes among editors as well.
Thanks,
      GerardM