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The Signpost: 6 September 2017Edit

The Signpost: 25 September 2017Edit

The Signpost: 23 October 2017Edit

Facto Post – Issue 6 – 15 November 2017Edit

Facto Post – Issue 6 – 15 November 2017
 

WikidataCon Berlin 28–9 October 2017Edit

 
WikidataCon 2017 group photo

Under the heading rerum causas cognescere, the first ever Wikidata conference got under way in the Tagesspiegel building with two keynotes, One was on YAGO, about how a knowledge base conceived ten years ago if you assume automatic compilation from Wikipedia. The other was from manager Lydia Pintscher, on the "state of the data". Interesting rumours flourished: the mix'n'match tool and its 600+ datasets, mostly in digital humanities, to be taken off the hands of its author Magnus Manske by the WMF; a Wikibase incubator site is on its way. Announcements came in talks: structured data on Wikimedia Commons is scheduled to make substantive progress by 2019. The lexeme development on Wikidata is now not expected to make the Wiktionary sites redundant, but may facilitate automated compilation of dictionaries.

 
WD-FIST explained

And so it went, with five strands of talks and workshops, through to 11 pm on Saturday. Wikidata applies to GLAM work via metadata. It may be used in education, raises issues such as author disambiguation, and lends itself to different types of graphical display and reuse. Many millions of SPARQL queries are run on the site every day. Over the summer a large open science bibliography has come into existence there.

Wikidata's fifth birthday party on the Sunday brought matters to a close. See a dozen and more reports by other hands.

LinksEdit

Editor Charles Matthews. Please leave feedback for him.

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 10:02, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

The Signpost: 24 November 2017Edit

Facto Post – Issue 7 – 15 December 2017Edit

Facto Post – Issue 7 – 15 December 2017
 

A new bibliographical landscapeEdit

At the beginning of December, Wikidata items on individual scientific articles passed the 10 million mark. This figure contrasts with the state of play in early summer, when there were around half a million. In the big picture, Wikidata is now documenting the scientific literature at a rate that is about eight times as fast as papers are published. As 2017 ends, progress is quite evident.

Behind this achievement are a technical advance (fatameh), and bots that do the lifting. Much more than dry migration of metadata is potentially involved, however. If paper A cites paper B, both papers having an item, a link can be created on Wikidata, and the information presented to both human readers, and machines. This cross-linking is one of the most significant aspects of the scientific literature, and now a long-sought open version is rapidly being built up.

The effort for the lifting of copyright restrictions on citation data of this kind has had real momentum behind it during 2017. WikiCite and the I4OC have been pushing hard, with the result that on CrossRef over 50% of the citation data is open. Now the holdout publishers are being lobbied to release rights on citations.

But all that is just the beginning. Topics of papers are identified, authors disambiguated, with significant progress on the use of the four million ORCID IDs for researchers, and proposals formulated to identify methodology in a machine-readable way. P4510 on Wikidata has been introduced so that methodology can sit comfortably on items about papers.

More is on the way. OABot applies the unpaywall principle to Wikipedia referencing. It has been proposed that Wikidata could assist WorldCat in compiling the global history of book translation. Watch this space.

And make promoting #1lib1ref one of your New Year's resolutions. Happy holidays, all!

 
November 2017 map of geolocated Wikidata items, made by Addshore

LinksEdit


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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 14:54, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

The Signpost: 18 December 2017Edit

Facto Post – Issue 8 – 15 January 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 8 – 15 January 2018
 

Metadata on the MarchEdit

From the days of hard-copy liner notes on music albums, metadata have stood outside a piece or file, while adding to understanding of where it comes from, and some of what needs to be appreciated about its content. In the GLAM sector, the accumulation of accurate metadata for objects is key to the mission of an institution, and its presentation in cataloguing.

Today Wikipedia turns 17, with worlds still to conquer. Zooming out from the individual GLAM object to the ontology in which it is set, one such world becomes apparent: GLAMs use custom ontologies, and those introduce massive incompatibilities. From a recent article by sadads, we quote the observation that "vocabularies needed for many collections, topics and intellectual spaces defy the expectations of the larger professional communities." A job for the encyclopedist, certainly. But the data-minded Wikimedian has the advantages of Wikidata, starting with its multilingual data, and facility with aliases. The controlled vocabulary — sometimes referred to as a "thesaurus" as term of art — simplifies search: if a "spade" must be called that, rather than "shovel", it is easier to find all spade references. That control comes at a cost.

 
SVG pedestrian crosses road
 
Zebra crossing/crosswalk, Singapore

Case studies in that article show what can lie ahead. The schema crosswalk, in jargon, is a potential answer to the GLAM Babel of proliferating and expanding vocabularies. Even if you have no interest in Wikidata as such, simply vocabularies V and W, if both V and W are matched to Wikidata, then a "crosswalk" arises from term v in V to w in W, whenever v and w both match to the same item d in Wikidata.

For metadata mobility, match to Wikidata. It's apparently that simple: infrastructure requirements have turned out, so far, to be challenges that can be met.

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 12:38, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 16 January 2018Edit

The Signpost: 5 February 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 9 – 5 February 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 9 – 5 February 2018
 

m:Grants:Project/ScienceSource is the new ContentMine proposal: please take a look.

Wikidata as HubEdit

One way of looking at Wikidata relates it to the semantic web concept, around for about as long as Wikipedia, and realised in dozens of distributed Web institutions. It sees Wikidata as supplying central, encyclopedic coverage of linked structured data, and looks ahead to greater support for "federated queries" that draw together information from all parts of the emerging network of websites.

Another perspective might be likened to a photographic negative of that one: Wikidata as an already-functioning Web hub. Over half of its properties are identifiers on other websites. These are Wikidata's "external links", to use Wikipedia terminology: one type for the DOI of a publication, another for the VIAF page of an author, with thousands more such. Wikidata links out to sites that are not nominally part of the semantic web, effectively drawing them into a larger system. The crosswalk possibilities of the systematic construction of these links was covered in Issue 8.

Wikipedia:External links speaks of them as kept "minimal, meritable, and directly relevant to the article." Here Wikidata finds more of a function. On viaf.org one can type a VIAF author identifier into the search box, and find the author page. The Wikidata Resolver tool, these days including Open Street Map, Scholia etc., allows this kind of lookup. The hub tool by maxlath takes a major step further, allowing both lookup and crosswalk to be encoded in a single URL.

LinksEdit


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Reminder: WikiFactMine pages on Wikidata are at WD:WFM.

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 11:50, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 20 February 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 10 – 12 March 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 10 – 12 March 2018
 

Milestone for mix'n'matchEdit

Around the time in February when Wikidata clicked past item Q50000000, another milestone was reached: the mix'n'match tool uploaded its 1000th dataset. Concisely defined by its author, Magnus Manske, it works "to match entries in external catalogs to Wikidata". The total number of entries is now well into eight figures, and more are constantly being added: a couple of new catalogs each day is normal.

Since the end of 2013, mix'n'match has gradually come to play a significant part in adding statements to Wikidata. Particularly in areas with the flavour of digital humanities, but datasets can of course be about practically anything. There is a catalog on skyscrapers, and two on spiders.

These days mix'n'match can be used in numerous modes, from the relaxed gamified click through a catalog looking for matches, with prompts, to the fantastically useful and often demanding search across all catalogs. I'll type that again: you can search 1000+ datasets from the simple box at the top right. The drop-down menu top left offers "creation candidates", Magnus's personal favourite. m:Mix'n'match/Manual for more.

For the Wikidatan, a key point is that these matches, however carried out, add statements to Wikidata if, and naturally only if, there is a Wikidata property associated with the catalog. For everyone, however, the hands-on experience of deciding of what is a good match is an education, in a scholarly area, biographical catalogs being particularly fraught. Underpinning recent rapid progress is an open infrastructure for scraping and uploading.

Congratulations to Magnus, our data Stakhanovite!

LinksEdit

 
3D printing

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 12:26, 12 March 2018 (UTC)

Signpost issue 4 – 29 March 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 11 – 9 April 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 11 – 9 April 2018
 

The 100 Skins of the OnionEdit

Open Citations Month, with its eminently guessable hashtag, is upon us. We should be utterly grateful that in the past 12 months, so much data on which papers cite which other papers has been made open, and that Wikidata is playing its part in hosting it as "cites" statements. At the time of writing, there are 15.3M Wikidata items that can do that.

Pulling back to look at open access papers in the large, though, there is is less reason for celebration. Access in theory does not yet equate to practical access. A recent LSE IMPACT blogpost puts that issue down to "heterogeneity". A useful euphemism to save us from thinking that the whole concept doesn't fall into the realm of the oxymoron.

Some home truths: aggregation is not content management, if it falls short on reusability. The PDF file format is wedded to how humans read documents, not how machines ingest them. The salami-slicer is our friend in the current downloading of open access papers, but for a better metaphor, think about skinning an onion, laboriously, 100 times with diminishing returns. There are of the order of 100 major publisher sites hosting open access papers, and the predominant offer there is still a PDF.

 
Red onion cross section

From the discoverability angle, Wikidata's bibliographic resources combined with the SPARQL query are superior in principle, by far, to existing keyword searches run over papers. Open access content should be managed into consistent HTML, something that is currently strenuous. The good news, such as it is, would be that much of it is already in XML. The organisational problem of removing further skins from the onion, with sensible prioritisation, is certainly not insuperable. The CORE group (the bloggers in the LSE posting) has some answers, but actually not all that is needed for the text and data mining purposes they highlight. The long tail, or in other words the onion heart when it has become fiddly beyond patience to skin, does call for a pis aller. But the real knack is to do more between the XML and the heart.

LinksEdit


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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 16:25, 9 April 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 26 April 2018Edit

The Signpost: 24 May 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 12 – 28 May 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 12 – 28 May 2018
 

ScienceSource fundedEdit

The Wikimedia Foundation announced full funding of the ScienceSource grant proposal from ContentMine on May 18. See the ScienceSource Twitter announcement and 60 second video.

A medical canon?

The proposal includes downloading 30,000 open access papers, aiming (roughly speaking) to create a baseline for medical referencing on Wikipedia. It leaves open the question of how these are to be chosen.

The basic criteria of WP:MEDRS include a concentration on secondary literature. Attention has to be given to the long tail of diseases that receive less current research. The MEDRS guideline supposes that edge cases will have to be handled, and the premature exclusion of publications that would be in those marginal positions would reduce the value of the collection. Prophylaxis misses the point that gate-keeping will be done by an algorithm.

Two well-known but rather different areas where such considerations apply are tropical diseases and alternative medicine. There are also a number of potential downloading troubles, and these were mentioned in Issue 11. There is likely to be a gap, even with the guideline, between conditions taken to be necessary but not sufficient, and conditions sufficient but not necessary, for candidate papers to be included. With around 10,000 recognised medical conditions in standard lists, being comprehensive is demanding. With all of these aspects of the task, ScienceSource will seek community help.

LinksEdit

 
OpenRefine logo, courtesy of Google

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Reminder: WikiFactMine pages on Wikidata are at WD:WFM. ScienceSource pages will be announced there, and in this mass message.

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 10:16, 28 May 2018 (UTC)

Facto Post – Issue 13 – 29 May 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 13 – 29 May 2018
 

The Editor is Charles Matthews, for ContentMine. Please leave feedback for him, on his User talk page.
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Respecting MEDRS

Facto Post enters its second year, with a Cambridge Blue (OK, Aquamarine) background, a new logo, but no Cambridge blues. On-topic for the ScienceSource project is a project page here. It contains some case studies on how the WP:MEDRS guideline, for the referencing of articles at all related to human health, is applied in typical discussions.

Close to home also, a template, called {{medrs}} for short, is used to express dissatisfaction with particular references. Technology can help with patrolling, and this Petscan query finds over 450 articles where there is at least one use of the template. Of course the template is merely suggesting there is a possible issue with the reliability of a reference. Deciding the truth of the allegation is another matter.

This maintenance issue is one example of where ScienceSource aims to help. Where the reference is to a scientific paper, its type of algorithm could give a pass/fail opinion on such references. It could assist patrollers of medical articles, therefore, with the templated references and more generally. There may be more to proper referencing than that, indeed: context, quite what the statement supported by the reference expresses, prominence and weight. For that kind of consideration, case studies can help. But an algorithm might help to clear the backlog.

 
Evidence pyramid leading up to clinical guidelines, from WP:MEDRS
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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 18:19, 29 June 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 29 June 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 14 – 21 July 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 14 – 21 July 2018
 

The Editor is Charles Matthews, for ContentMine. Please leave feedback for him, on his User talk page.
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Plugging the gaps – Wikimania report

Officially it is "bridging the gaps in knowledge", with Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town paying tribute to the southern African concept of ubuntu to implement it. Besides face-to-face interactions, Wikimedians do need their power sources.

 
Hackathon mentoring table wiring

Facto Post interviewed Jdforrester, who has attended every Wikimania, and now works as Senior Product Manager for the Wikimedia Foundation. His take on tackling the gaps in the Wikimedia movement is that "if we were an army, we could march in a column and close up all the gaps". In his view though, that is a faulty metaphor, and it leads to a completely false misunderstanding of the movement, its diversity and different aspirations, and the nature of the work as "fighting" to be done in the open sector. There are many fronts, and as an eventualist he feels the gaps experienced both by editors and by users of Wikimedia content are inevitable. He would like to see a greater emphasis on reuse of content, not simply its volume.

If that may not sound like radicalism, the Decolonizing the Internet conference here organized jointly with Whose Knowledge? can redress the picture. It comes with the claim to be "the first ever conference about centering marginalized knowledge online".

 
Plugbar buildup at the Hackathon
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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 06:10, 21 July 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 31 July 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 15 – 21 August 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 15 – 21 August 2018
 

The Editor is Charles Matthews, for ContentMine. Please leave feedback for him, on his User talk page.
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Neglected diseases
 
Anti-parasitic drugs being distributed in Côte d'Ivoire
What's a Neglected Disease?, ScienceSource video

To grasp the nettle, there are rare diseases, there are tropical diseases and then there are "neglected diseases". Evidently a rare enough disease is likely to be neglected, but neglected disease these days means a disease not rare, but tropical, and most often infectious or parasitic. Rare diseases as a group are dominated, in contrast, by genetic diseases.

A major aspect of neglect is found in tracking drug discovery. Orphan drugs are those developed to treat rare diseases (rare enough not to have market-driven research), but there is some overlap in practice with the WHO's neglected diseases, where snakebite, a "neglected public health issue", is on the list.

From an encyclopedic point of view, lack of research also may mean lack of high-quality references: the core medical literature differs from primary research, since it operates by aggregating trials. This bibliographic deficit clearly hinders Wikipedia's mission. The ScienceSource project is currently addressing this issue, on Wikidata. Its Wikidata focus list at WD:SSFL is trying to ensure that neglect does not turn into bias in its selection of science papers.

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 13:23, 21 August 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 30 August 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 16 – 30 September 2018Edit

Facto Post – Issue 16 – 30 September 2018
 

The Editor is Charles Matthews, for ContentMine. Please leave feedback for him, on his User talk page.
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The science publishing landscape

In an ideal world ... no, bear with your editor for just a minute ... there would be a format for scientific publishing online that was as much a standard as SI units are for the content. Likewise cataloguing publications would not be onerous, because part of the process would be to generate uniform metadata. Without claiming it could be the mythical free lunch, it might be reasonably be argued that sandwiches can be packaged much alike and have barcodes, whatever the fillings.

The best on offer, to stretch the metaphor, is the meal kit option, in the form of XML. Where scientific papers are delivered as XML downloads, you get all the ingredients ready to cook. But have to prepare the actual meal of slow food yourself. See Scholarly HTML for a recent pass at heading off XML with HTML, in other words in the native language of the Web.

The argument from real life is a traditional mixture of frictional forces, vested interests, and the classic irony of the principle of unripe time. On the other hand, discoverability actually diminishes with the prolific progress of science publishing. No, it really doesn't scale. Wikimedia as movement can do something in such cases. We know from open access, we grok the Web, we have our own horse in the HTML race, we have Wikidata and WikiJournal, and we have the chops to act.

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 17:57, 30 September 2018 (UTC)

The Signpost: 1 October 2018Edit

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