Monday, April 27, 2015

#Google - thank you for pushing #mobile #phone support

Putting your money where your mouth is is a wonderful thing. Google just did that again. Not by serving notice that support for mobile phones is important but by giving it teeth.

Recently it did it with Fi. A new product that will shake up an industry.

From now those websites that are not providing proper support for mobile phones are out of luck. Google does it where it hurts them most; it is in their ranking.

When you "google" (the verb), you will see those web sites first that are ranked the highest. Websites that do not function properly on mobile phones will go the way of the dodo as their ranking will plummet; they will not get the same results and providing quality support for mobile phones is how damage may be repaired.

Wikipedia is said to have a problem here. It is not exactly a mobile friendly website. For that it has a special subdomain and, that does not count. So all the things we know that make life better for the one area where we are growing.

It is no longer a zero sum game. We will be hurt in our prime objective when we do not ensure that Wikipedia and all the sister projects. We rely heavily on the Google ranking. It is no longer a matter of personal preference and making noises to stop progress in its track. It is about the very essence of what we do: sharing in the sum of all knowledge.

It is great to know that our software is at a stage where it is quite good at supporting mobile phones. I am grateful for the forward thinking of the WMF to get us here. The next step is to bring it to all our projects and pages.

For old fogeys like me, we could have so that we can live in our past.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

#Wikidata -#UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights II

Mr Baba Amte received the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1988. He must have done something good because he was awarded many more prizes. It is easy enough to add more awards to Wikidata and link them to Mr Amte and it does show his relevance.

When a red link is made into a Wikidata item like this, it is in fact an invitation to others to research those awards and add more people to them. Many of them are awards from India and it this way, people from India are celebrated. I do not think it is controversial to say that they are notable for the purpose of Wikidata.

Friday, April 24, 2015

#Wikidata -#UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights

The United Nations recognises organisations and people who have made a difference. The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights shows many people and organisations that were awarded in this way.

At this time this list is a "work in progress" at Wikidata. The people known to the English Wikipedia are on it. It is now a matter of filling in the "red links" and removing a few erroneous entries. The only way to see this list is by using the Reasonator.

What is really interesting is that most of the missing people already exist on Wikidata. They just do not exist on the English Wikipedia, Adam Lopatka is one example. Completing a list like this is therefore an exercise of patiently checking every entry for existing items. For others, like the Vicaría de la Solidaridad the link has not been made.

The beauty of working on a special interest like human rights in Wikidata is, that you can highlight the people that matter. This does not mean that they are easily found. Amir is working on a bot that will do transliteration. That will be a boon particularly to find the people who are only known in a different script. Mehranguiz Manoutchehrian and Petr Emelyanovich Nedbailo are two examples that may have an article after all. The first is from Iran, the second from the USSR.

It is wonderful to see how the pieces are coming together for Wikidata.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

#Wikimedia - Robin Reineke - #migrants die

Robin Reineke is a founder and the executive director of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights. They work with the Pima County Medical Examiner to identify migrant lives lost. By documenting the lives lost, they make the point that people matter.

Never mind what border, people on opposite sites of the fence or sea think less of the people on the opposite side. In the USA they die in a desert, in Europe they die at sea. When they are in the Netherlands, it is "OK" for them to drift on the streets.

People matter and Robin received the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award on behalf of the foundation she founded. Under normal circumstances, the people of the age that dare to migrate are the power houses of an economy. When they, like the corrupt money are leaving a country its economy is not doing as well as it should.

Accepting money and not people is an indication of double standards. It has everything to do with the corrupt people being of a similar class.

I received this picture from Robin to upload to Commons. At this time it does not work for me.. Sad.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#Wikimedia and politicians from #Nigeria

The Wikimedia blog mentioned the fight against corruption by Johnson Oludeinde. Johnson states that information needs to be shared widely and consequently it is relevant to have information about all Nigerian politicians.

There are many of them, there are the chiefs, the governors and the senators to name but three categories. The senators that have a Wikipedia article are now known as a Nigerian senator in Wikidata but also as a Nigerian politician.

At this time we know about some 700 Nigerian politicians in Wikidata. This information can be expressed in all languages including all languages from Nigeria. Given that Wikipedia still has no article about Chief Willie Obiano for instance, it is safe to say that most Nigerian politicians past and present do not have a Wikipedia article either.

Adding information in Wikidata is easy. It makes it easy to make information widely available particularly when its search results are added to the Wikipedia search.

#Wikidata & #Amnesty - Razan Zaitouneh disappeared - P746

Razan Zaitoudeh disappeared December 2013 from her home. It is probably not realistic to ask or expect her release. It is more likely that she was murdered.

Earlier in her life, Razan was detained by the Syrian government. At the time Amnesty International campaigned for her release.

Razan, Samira, Wael and Nazem disappeared together. This has been documented using the P746, date of disappearance property for all of them.

Together they received the Petra Kelly award. I am sure that their loved ones would prefer them to be safe instead.


Monday, April 20, 2015

#Wikidata & #Amnesty - Razan Zaitouneh disappeared

Razan Zaitouneh is a journalist who disappeared from her home in Douma, Syria with three other people on December 2013. Razan was very well known as a journalist documenting human rights in Syria. Razam disappeared together with Samira Khalil, Wael Hamada, and Nazem Hammadi.

Mrs Zaitouneh received several awards for her work. I was adding one of them to someone else and it is how I learned about her. It is reasonable to expect her to be dead but, how do we document the disappeared. We do not have a convenient date of death, we do not know where she died. We only know that she disappeared.. How do we register this in Wikidata?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

#Wikidata & #Amnesty - Raif Badawi II

One important thing to consider with people like Mr Badawi is that they do not operate in a vacuum. He has a sister, Samar, she is married to Waleed.

All three have had their troubles and tribulations with Saudi officials. All three have spend time in jail, all three are watched by Amnesty International.

It is important to know and understand these connections. People are not only a "human rights activist", they have family, they studied, have a job. They are part of their society. When Wikipedia or for that matter Wikidata only informs about one aspect, it is not really a neutral point of view.

Yes, they are notable for their human rights activities. It is by not ignoring who they are that we provide more rounded information. In this way our information becomes more encyclopaedic and thy gain relevance as a person.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

#Wikidata & #Amnesty - Raif Badawi

Mr Badawi is a blogger who is in jail in Saudi Arabia. Like so many people he got the attention of Amnesty International because he spoke out. Read the article on Wikipedia or read the information about Mr Badawi on the Amnesty website.

It is easy and obvious how to get attention for Mr Badawi on Wikidata. It is all about making statements. You will find that he was awarded many times. Those awards did not exist on Wikidata, consequently other people who were awarded the prize were not recognised either.

By adding newly these created awards to Mr Badawi, you raise his profile. By including statements on the organisations who conferred these awards you add weight. By adding the other people or organisations that were celebrated with an award, all of them get added gravitas.

It is not hard to give Mr Badawi additional visibility, Transliterate his name in the languages of India and you can find him, the awards, the other awardees searching in the Wikipedias.

The Wikimedia Foundation is all about education, about a neutral point of view. By making these statements about people like Mr Badawi it is more obvious that he will not be easily forgotten while he lingers in his cell.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

#Wikimedia - Erik Möller

Erik Möller or Erik Moeller for those who have a problem writing a foreign name is a longtime friend. I worked with him often particularly in those days when wearing a ponytail was en vogue among geeks.

The one thing I savour in this blog post is that I am not writing because of Erik passing away; it is only that his days at the Wikimedia Foundation are numbered. It has a bitter sweet ring to it because I know how much the WMF means to him.

We worked together on Wikiprotein and OmegaWiki. Sadly at the time the Wikimedia Foundation did not want to adopt OmegaWiki because it was too expensive at the time. In the mean time OmegaWiki still has an edge in several areas over Wikidata but in the one area that matters it does not. There is even a publication with our name on it and Jimmy's..

Erik I expect that you will have fun.

Monday, April 13, 2015

#Wikipedia - not a stamp collection

Anne Bannister

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anne Bannister (11 May 1936 – 26 March 2015) was a British child psychotherapist, a pioneer in using stories, toys and puppets to work with victims of child abuse.[1]

The article about Mrs Bannister is not more than this. As a stub it does not inform us that she was important in the British Psychodrama Association, it does not mention that she published about her speciality; helping children who were sexually abused. You can find papers of her in Google Books. These will inform you that she worked for the NSPCC and the university of Huddersfield.

Mrs Bannister is now well represented at Wikidata. Even though many of the egregious cases of child abuse get all the attention, it is important to offset this with attention for everything that is good even when it is at the end of a relevant life.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

#Wikidata - David Laventhol; a great #journalist who supported journalism

David Laventhol was an important journalist. His career was stellar and his positive on American journalism was huge. Mr Laventhol died recently and his legacy is even more relevant than the work he did professionally.

Many journalists including Mr Laventhol realised that journalists are persecuted in many countries for doing their work. Mr Laventhol was involved in organisations like the committee to protect journalists and the International Press Institute.

When someone like Mr Laventhol dies, it is a great moment to remember the work he was involved in. It is a moment to add statements for the journalists who are celebrated for their efforts to bring news to us.

In this way we celebrate our human rights. It starts with adding the statements, more statements may follow, labels can be added in all our languages and as a result we may learn that a free press comes at a cost.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

#Wikidata - #Amnesty International; a case in point

When people are persecuted for supporting one of the rights that are considered universal, it is import for them to know that organisations like Amnesty International will support them. When Amnesty supports people, it calls on volunteers to protest their innocence. Their innocence because universal human rights are not to be denied.

Arguably, people become notable when Amnesty recognises them for expressing their human rights and being persecuted for it.

We Wikimedians are fortunate because we do express ourselves freely. We pride ourselves on our "neutral point of view" and we are quite happy to block the powers that be when they impose their point of view. Then again, it is the English Wikipedia where the whole world is looking closely

My opinion is that by bringing information with a neutral point of view, we inform whoever is interested to be informed. Given that as a rule we inform about everything, we should inform about the people, the organisations that defend our universal human rights. We should inform about the struggle, the awards, the set backs.

I am sure that all the organisations involved want to ensure that all the organisations, all the people involved are covered. In Wikidata all we need to do is cover every language and by implication every country, every organisation. This Amnesty International award is German, at this time it does not have a label in most languages including English. It is just a case in point.

Friday, April 10, 2015

#Wikipedia Zero - I am all for it II

Wikipedia Zero is a tool. Its purpose is to enable more people reading Wikipedia. The problem it solves is that many people have a limit how much data they can use on the subscription they have for their mobile phone. It does it by having the ISP's provide Wikipedia for free.

There are other tools like Kiwix, it provides Wikipedia off line. Typically it is used in more formal settings like schools.

They are different tools they are both splendid and they both deserve praise and support.

Some say Wikipedia Zero is used largely by those who are already relatively wealthy and educated. The argument used is: "They use Wikipedia in English". This is a wonderful argument; it exposes the bias of Wikipedia for English and at most it is a perverse result.

Having people use Wikipedia in English does not mean that they do not benefit from Wikipedia Zero. If you want to know if Wikipedia Zero fulfils its goal of enabling people to read Wikipedia, check out the increased use of Wikipedia for those countries. The tool does what it is designed to do; enable access.

When the argument that more people should be able to access Wikipedia in their mother tongue, it means that the current bias for English is to be offset by investing in content in these other languages. <grin> These high horse arguments against Wikipedia Zero can be countered by un-orthodox approaches like paid editing and automated content </grin> Let the heated arguments commence !

Thursday, April 09, 2015

#Wikipedia Zero - I am all for it

A wonderful piece about Wikipedia Zero was written by Mike Godwin. It is well worth it, it is relevant and it provides great arguments why Wikipedia Zero is so important.

Please read.


#Wikidata items without a statement

Most problematic in Wikidata are the items without a statement. They may be connected to articles in many projects but the main issue is that it is hard to add statements with confidence when you do not know what they are about.,

I blogged about datathons and one result is a new tool by Magnus that can be of an enormous help; It shows items without statements for a language and they are sorted by the number of sitelinks they hold. There is a link to the Reasonator and it is really useful because it shows some text when you hover over a sitelink.

It is yet another tool that is worthy of attention in Mangus's tour of the Wikidata ecosystem. The example you see above is for Dutch, this one is for Nepali.

Monday, April 06, 2015

#Wikidata - General Tso's chicken

Every now and again I just make a statement because it is funny. General Tso's chicken is a dish named after a general of the Qing dynasty called Zuo Zongtang. So I added that this dish is a dish and named after the general.

I do not change the nationality of Mr Zongtang. Apparently he was a general of the People's Republic of China. I will not add nor change nationalities, it is a can of worms that I gladly leave to people who are more heroic that I am.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

#Wikidata - #statistics

This chart is really interesting; it was made from the last dump (2015-03-30). Item numbers are subdivided into intervals of 100,000. So for instance (X,Y) = (192,73720) represents the interval [Q19200000, Q19299999] having 73,720 out of 100,000 items without a single claim.

It is interesting because it indicates to me that items are imported in batches. As the items in those batches are similar, it follows that even though many statements are added all the time, these items do not get similar attention.

Reasonator has a "Random item" feature and I used it to get a feeling what items do not have any statements. It seems to me that they are mostly items with a sitelink to "another" language and often they are about subjects that are in a relatively small class.

The items with a sitelink to "another" language are probably the most problematic. It is realistic to expect that many of them could be linked to another item when it was clear what it is the item is about. For that you need people who know the language and/or you need a way to figure things out using tools like Kian.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

#Wikidata - What to do in a #Datathon III

One goal for a datathon is to demonstrate, to teach the use of the various tools. When you want to be effective individually or as a group, you have to use tools. The Wikidata statistics make it obvious; the numbers of items, statements and labels are huge. To have an impact it is important to use the tools that are available.

The mathematics involved explain how you can have the most impact. Set theory helps you understand how to approach this effectively. When you add one label and it affects 10,000 items it is powerful. When you add every known lawyer of a country in one go and it affects 10,000 items it is powerful.

Choosing the tools that help you be effective is therefore what you teach the participants of a datathon. They go home and they are likely to continue using the tools.

The most obvious tool to introduce is Reasonator. For it to function well, it needs to be configured. This is done partly from the personal settings. This ensures that you Wikidata data will show as information in Reasonator in *your* language by preference.

The other part to configure Reasonator is Widar. Widar is a tool that authenticates the edits you do in Reasonator to Wikidata. In the screenshot above there is a picture that was added to Wikidata in this way. The most relevant use case is adding labels in your language. The missing ones are underlined in red.

AutoList is probably the second most relevant tool to demonstrate. It provides an interface to several tools. One of them is the WDQ or Wikidata Query another is the CatScan. Combining these tools allows you to find every human in a category that is not known in Wikidata for what the category indicates is true about this human... and then add the statement that does just that.

There are other tools that are extremely useful. In a datathon it is important to have a mix of people. People who know the tools well, people who are interested to learn and people who have a "mission". When the activities concentrate on the "missions", it means that you zoom in on a subject and apply the skills and labour on doing good. This makes it clear how relatively little effort can have a huge impact. Not only for a language but also for a subject domain.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

#Wikidata - You are infamous when you are on the Simon #Wiesenthal list

There are many Nazis who are included in #Wikipedia. Consequently they are in Wikidata. When you compare the attention given to them, it is obvious a case of positive bias. More attention is given to their awards, their stations, ranks and other paraphernalia than for many similar groups.

For this reason it is great to offset such bias by listing those who were convicted for their crimes. It is important to list the people who are or were wanted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, There is no category for these people. The list is very much incomplete but at least there are now at least 22 of them listed.

It would be good when attention is given to the people who were on the list and what came of them. The glorification of these people needs a counterweight. This list is at best a start.

#VIAF - Move over #Wikipedia for #Wikidata

VIAF or the Virtual International Authority File is maintained by the OCLC or the Online Computer Library Centre. It is effectively where libraries worldwide maintain information on everything. Its importance is hard to grasp; it links to the sum of all knowledge worldwide in all the libraries in the world.

To share in the sum of all knowledge, VIAF links to Wikipedia and so far it was only the English Wikipedia it linked to. VIAF took a huge step in sharing to all of Wikipedia recently. It decided to no longer link to English Wikipedia but to link to Wikidata.

What this does not mean is that the OCLC does not appreciate the English Wikipedia. What it does mean is that by linking to Wikidata it implicitly links to every Wikipedia. It can now link to authors only known in the Russian, the Chinese, the Hindi or any other Wikipedia. This is enabled by Wikidata because it links to any article in any Wikipedia.

It takes me three paragraphs to explain what it is that is happening. The implications are huge. Every month the OCLC will update its information from Wikidata. Given that the OCLC had a Wikipedian in Residence who was instrumental in this development, it is well possible that the information flow will be going more and more in both directions. The German community has collaborated for years with the German Library who maintains its authority file. The GND is included in the VIAF.

At Wikidata we have always been open to collaborating with external resources. This open attitude now results in relevance. A relevance that will expose every Wikipedia in every library of the world that is linked to the OCLC through VIAF. How wonderful is that?