Thursday, January 18, 2018

#Wikimedia - #Personal - there is no silver bullet

For everything that ails any of the #Wikimedia projects, there is no silver bullet. To complicate things, there is no agreement what it is that ails these projects mostly because there is hardly any collaboration.

I am not a Wikipedian. I love Wikipedia but I do not identify with it. I have been involved in many projects including Wikipedia and my global account is testament to that. My involvements have been substantial and central in my motivation is: how can we share the sum of all knowledge, how will we reach the biggest audience and have the biggest effect.

I have been called "monomaniacal with my silver bullet du jour". Over time several topics have occupied me and this has resulted in an evolving understanding of what I perceive as issues with what we do and how we do it. When you are interested in how my opinions evolved, read my blog, it runs from 2005.

The English Wikipedia is Wikimedia's success. Its biggest problem; over 50% of its target audience does not speak English. At that, organisational attention in any project attention is mostly for English. There are several solutions possible that help us "share the sum of the knowledge that is available" more widely.
  • localisation of the user interface makes our software better usable and more user friendly
  • the user interface of Wikidata makes it easy and obvious to add labels in *your* languages
  • the data of Wikidata is used to generate texts that are cached, not saved, when there is no Wikipedia article on the subject
  • Advertise the information we have; things like finished books in Wikisource
I do promote translatewiki.net for the localisation of the MediaWiki software and I would love to see the Internet Archive and the OCLC to use translatewiki.net and have their services localised in all the languages that Wikipedia supports.

Reasonator is still the best interface on the Wikidata data. Data becomes informative and it makes it easy to add labels in *your* language. In essence this is again all about "sharing in the sum of all available knowledge". Hidden gems are the "Concept cloud" and the QRcode available on every Reasonator page. Reasonator is just one of the many tools by Magnus that makes Wikidata usable.

My main motto is "what is the purpose". When I was particularly involved in Wiktionary, I collaborated with many people in many Wiktionaries and this is where I learned to appreciate the lack of coordination that exists between projects. Thanks to wonderful people like Sabine Cretella, I developed the ideas and in the end a data model for a project that became the basis for OmegaWiki. This data model was inspected and approved by among others Alan K. Melby. Thanks to Jimbo I got into contact with Barend Mons and became involved in bio-medical data and science. The development of OmegaWiki happened parallel to the main work in Wikiproteins.

At this time Wikidata and the opportunities it presents has my interest. Contrary to some, I am not an apologist for everything Wikidata and contrary to what some say, I do not blame the development team but the group pressures that so often result in unhappy compromises and decisions. It is for instance an acknowledged fact that Wikidata descriptions are problematic and that automated descriptions are superior.. "Never mind; it is what we do" is the prevailing sentiment.. (as always).

There is no silver bullet and consequently a result is only achieved after a lot of work. I want functionality that mimics an Algerian project I blogged about way back in 2013. To achieve this I am adding dates to the governorships of all USA states. It allows for queries like this. A next stage will be when a map of the USA is shown with all its states and a slider to move in time. It is then easy to show the governors at that time..

I am not sorry that I keep on returning to issues mentioned it the past, what some people miss is the amount of continuous effort that goes into achieving them.
Thanks,
      GerardM
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