October 2, 2013
#WikipediaProblems: How Do You Classify Everything?

How do you organize all the world’s information?
A decision made by the editors in charge of Wikipedia’s newest, biggest project reveals the difficulty of such a task.
Wikidata is the newest project from the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization which runs Wikipedia. As Becca wrote here last year, Wikidata promises a single, shared infrastructure of knowledge beneath Wikipedia in every language. This underlying data layer, which is Wikidata, can be read by both humans and machine, and it propagates changes from one language’s version of Wikipedia to other languages. If Canada, for instance, gets a new finance minister, and someone edits Wikipedia in English to reflect that change, then Wikidata will propagate that information to Wikipedia in other languages.
That’s a relatively straightforward use of Wikidata, though. Its promise is machine analysis of the Wikipedia body of knowledge in a complex, ongoing, holistic way — and for computation like that, its macro-organizational system matters.
Imagine a live visualization of the entire Wikipedia system, organized partly by the subject matter of article. What system needs to exist to make that possible?
Read more. [Image: Glyn Lowe]

#WikipediaProblems: How Do You Classify Everything?

How do you organize all the world’s information?

A decision made by the editors in charge of Wikipedia’s newest, biggest project reveals the difficulty of such a task.

Wikidata is the newest project from the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization which runs Wikipedia. As Becca wrote here last year, Wikidata promises a single, shared infrastructure of knowledge beneath Wikipedia in every language. This underlying data layer, which is Wikidata, can be read by both humans and machine, and it propagates changes from one language’s version of Wikipedia to other languages. If Canada, for instance, gets a new finance minister, and someone edits Wikipedia in English to reflect that change, then Wikidata will propagate that information to Wikipedia in other languages.

That’s a relatively straightforward use of Wikidata, though. Its promise is machine analysis of the Wikipedia body of knowledge in a complex, ongoing, holistic way — and for computation like that, its macro-organizational system matters.

Imagine a live visualization of the entire Wikipedia system, organized partly by the subject matter of article. What system needs to exist to make that possible?

Read more. [Image: Glyn Lowe]

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