Thursday, December 28, 2017

#Wikidata - Cyrus J. Colter and G. B. Lancaster - #diversity

Cyrus J. Colter was inducted on the Black Literary Hall Of Fame in 1999. He has a Wikipedia article in Japanese and his Wikidata item has been expanded with a link to Open Library and VIAF

According to a tweet, G. B. Lancaster was once one of New Zealand's most popular writers. When you google her, you find that G.B. Lancaster is a pseudonym for Edith Joan Lyttleton. For Mrs Lyttleton there is now a link to Open Library as well.

From a diversity point of view, both Mr Colter and Mrs Lyttleton represent minorities. Giving attention to either increases the diversity of Wikidata. Linking both authors to the Open Library has the most inclusive effect. There is now a bigger public for the books they have written.

Monday, December 25, 2017

#Wikidata - #Reebok Human Rights award

Once upon a time, there was a company called Reebok who presented an award to human rights activists under the age of 30. Every year four or five people received $50,000.--. Every year attention was given to human rights. Important enough because an award like this gives additional relevance and resonance for an extremely good cause. It may even provide some extra protection by making people more visible.

The award is no longer presented. Some people who were recognised  refused the award because in their opinion Reebok itself should take care about its human right record. Some people took actions and they were successful; the last award ceremony was in 2007. That is all; a lot less attention for human rights, defeat in victory.

The best information about the Reebok Human Rights Award is at the Internet Archive's Wayback machine.  Nothing wrong with the credentials as stated of the people who were awarded.. When you compare this with the linked people at Wikipedia, you will miss the Chilean soccer player, the Nigerian business magnate and find what are Wikipedia red links.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

#Wikimedia - #diversity and #inclusion requires #trust

All the Wikimedia projects have their culture. Each project has its own culture and there is this overall stated ambition that diversity and the inclusion that is needed to make it work is alive and well.

We have our diversity conferences and the best result is how the "gender gap" is approached. It gets a lot of attention and the positive effects are noticeable. There is however more to diversity and some of the beliefs we hold so dear prevent the inclusion from those that are at the outside looking in.

One of the Wikimedia traditions is that we do not trust; trust is in the citations, the sources. We do not trust each other, why should we? When for diversities sake, people who receive the "Harriƫt Freezerring" are added, it is accepted because there is a Wikipedia article that mentions them.. But when people are added because they are "artists from the African diaspora" there is a problem. There are no articles yet and the point of adding the artists first is because Wikidata enables managing projects in multiple languages.

There are many people who are targetted for attention in Wikipedia editathons. There have been editathons in the past so there is an established track record for the Black Lunch Table. That did not bring trust, the trust needed to accept that the BLT will manage the people on the list. The trust that bare boned items will get sufficient statements eventually.

The problem with trust is that when it is not given, it can not be assumed for other, similar situations either. The trust that retractions from scientific papers will be included so that we know what Wikipedia articles are inherently wrong. Retractions are absent at this time and while I trust the people involved in the inclusion of citations, why trust at all when equally worthy causes are not trusted? Why include all these scientific papers without similar quality control?

#Belief - Black Pete, Rudolph and Christmas

It is Christmas time and a good time is had by all. As everone knows; Santaclaus has reindeer and one of them has a red nose. The notion of Santa is based on a Dutch tradition "Sinterklaas" and everybody knows that he arrives by steam boat from Madrid accompanied by "Zwarte Piet" and comes loaded with presents for all the children who have been good. It is all part of winter celebrations, Santaclaus is firmly associated with Christmas and it is well documented that Jezus was not born on this day so many centuries ago.

When you start to evaluate belief and find things to criticise you can and may do so. However, it is easily understood why this is not appreciated at all. People want to believe in a Jezus that did not look at all like how it is usually depicted. The fact that Santa comes from the North pole found a lot of cheer thanks to Norad and I read an amusing story that Rudolphs red nose is due to bioluminism. 

There is a lack of appreciation for "black pete" as some consider it an example of "Blackface". Do read the Wikipedia article, its origin is in a USA when slavery was alive and well. The Netherlands has a different culture; Zwarte Piet is clothed in seventeenth century garb he brings presents through the chimney but is always spotless. He is a smart, hardworking guy and only thanks to Zwarte Piet Sinterklaas can bring presents to all the children of the Netherlands. Remember, the Netherlands were Spanish until the seventeenth century.

Like in any belief system; those who truly belief benefit the most. When children are of an age when they will start to suspect that Sinterklaas is a ruse, they will be informed about the awful truth. When they no longer belief, when they are "gortig", they are expected to make surprises for their peers. They may share in the fun of a truly Dutch tradition. For those who object, the German term "hineininterpretieren" fits the application of blackface to Zwarte Piet.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Francesco Redi and the #BHL - A purpose for #Wikisource

Mr Redi is of a stature that his statue is in the Uffizi Gallery. His books are available in the Internet Archive, thanks to the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  Wikisourcers waved their magic on several of his books and the result is a superior output for for instance "Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti".

Mr Redi has four books who received the Wikisource treatment.. and then what? In response to a tweet, I was told of the existence of these books in Wikisource. I checked them on Wikidata and added Mr Redi as the author. There is nothing to indicate in Wikisource where the book came from (the BHL provided them with a DOI).

In a tweet, the BHL indicated that they are interested in books that received the Wikisource treatment. So lets consider where we are:
  • Wikisource has many great books transcribed and available as an ebook
  • It is not known outside of Wikisource what books are available in what quality and where they came from
  • We could have this information in Wikidata. It will give a clue what is available; we can query for the books when they are in Wikidata
  • What is the purpose of Wikisource if it is not for people to read all these fine books?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A purposeful #strategy for #Wikidata

A strategy for Wikidata? Obvious, it is all about having a purpose. It is not about policies, it is not about what we need or expect of others but it is about the purpose you, I and others have for us to collaborate on in an inclusive Wiki and data project.

The implication of making the purposes of our community rule supreme are huge. Purpose like so many other things can be measured. When people have a purpose for Wikidata and actually use it, their need for quality is self evident. They will invest their time and effort in fulfilling their purpose. The one question is how to fit in the many purposes that exist for Wikidata.

Take for instance the objective of Lsjbot for a rich Wikipedia in the Cebuano language. He uses data from an external database to create articles. Data from these articles are imported later through the Cebuano Wikipedia in Wikidata. This is seen by some as controversial because of the need to integrate data that often already exists. The purpose is obvious; rich information in the Cebuano language. The solution is obvious as well; let Lsjbot use the data at Wikidata to generate the information for the Cebuano Wikipedia. GeoNames is happy to collaborate with us on this, so when we care to collaborate and welcome its data at the front door, we can mix'n'match the data into Wikidata, curate the data where necessary and share improved quality widely, not only on the ceb.wp.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library Consortium is working extremely hard to expose their work to the general public. Over a million illustration found their way to Flickr. Fae imported many of these to Commons and most if not all the associated publications can be read on the Internet Archive or on its website. Their content is awesome, check for instance their Twitter account. We can import all the BHL books in Wikidata, we are importing all associated authors using Mix'n'Match. The images are in Commons but how is this brought together? How do we add value for the BHL and as important, for our shared public?

The Internet Archive is a Wikimedia partner. It provides essential services for us with its "Wayback machine". It is how we can still refer to references that used to be online. One other venture of the Internet Archive is its Open Library.  What we already do for the Open Library is linking their authors and by inference books to the libraries of the world through VIAF. We could share this information with the Wikipedias so that its readers may find books they can read. (Talk about sharing the sum of all knowledge).

Both the IA and the BHL want people to read. They (also) provide scientific publications that may be read to prove the points Wikipedia authors make in articles. Both can be big players strengthening the value of citations in WikiCite. At this time its strength is particularly in the biomedical field and it is already attracting bright people to Wikidata. As data from other fields finds its way, people like Egon and Siobhan will find their way. This will make Wikidata even more inclusive.

To make this future work, to become more inclusive, we should trust people more particularly when they indicate why they use Wikidata. The Black Lunch Table is a great example. The description at Wikidata says: "visual artists of the African diaspora initiative that includes Wikipedia editathons and outreach". One way of knowing how effective this initiative is is the history page of its listeria list. It shows a steady growth of information added. When you analyse it further you find artists added and selected for new editathons. Truly a great example of Wikidata having a purpose.

A strategy based on purpose, is a strategy based on trust. Not blind trust, but the kind of trust where it is seen that people are committed to improve both quantity, quality and usefulness of the data they identify with.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

When #Wikidata is good for something

When #Wikidata is good for something, it shines. It does not take much prodding to find people to improve on what it does so well and consequently when Wikidata is useful, quality follows easily.

The promise of  a useful Wikidata was delivered at its start by having it replace the native interwiki links of Wikipedia. Within a month the quality of Wikipedia links had improved dramatically and at this time corner cases are still worked improving quality even more.

The WikiCite project is really important in many respects and it has so much more to offer. It is useful because it brings many initiatives and projects together under one roof. It is why scientific papers are included, including its authors. We find that more and more authors are included as well and they are often linked to the ORCID, VIAF and other external identifiers of this world. This has great value because it allows Wikipedia articles and information maintained elsewhere to be linked. What it can be used for is limitless. End users will find new and interesting ways to use the data and make it into information.

When Wikidata is to be good for Wikimedia projects, this information brought to Wikidata because of WikiCite has great potential. It largely reflects the citations in all the Wikipedias and consequently through linked so external sources we could know what sources are problematic, retracted or bought by interested parties. We could, we don't. When we did, we would provide weight against propaganda and fake news.

The big thing holding us back is trust. Wikipedians need to consider a Wikidata that is not only used for links and that can be trusted for high level maintenance of its citations. Wikidata is to appreciate its use and trust that its information will be used and that this will increase its value and quality. WikiCiters have to understand that Wikidata is not a stamp collection only including publication data. It must include information about retractions, about papers considered problematic for political or scientific reasons (or both).

When Wikidata is to be good for something; we should expand our collaboration with Cochrane, Retraction Watch and organisations like it. There is everything to gain; quality, contributors and relevance.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

#Wikipedia #NPOV - When there is no neutral point of view

Mr Jacobson, a climatologists at Stanford University wrote a paper. Its findings were disputed in another paper. Jacobson maintains that the USA can be served for its energy needs exclusively with green energy. The contrarians have it that there must be a mix of conventional and green energy.

There are several issues with the latter paper; it is a paper supported by the conventional energy industry. The result of the paper are in the best interest of this energy and the paper is considered by many not to be the result of a scientific process. So much so that Jacobson went to court.

There is a big difference with an opinion piece and a scientific paper. The critique of the contrarians is that Mr Jacobson does not consider nuclear, fuel and bio fuel solutions at all. They argue that it could make the transition more difficult or expensive. But that is not the point. The point is that you can and, the point is that green energy is getting cheaper.

When a paper is bought by industry and the premise of the original paper is ignored, it is no longer scientific but becomes an opinion piece. Mr Jacobson is not the first predicting the demise of "big" energy, Greepeace has been doing it for decades..

There is no middle ground. It is why Mr Jacobson is going to court because the paper of the contrarians only serves one purpose; postponing the inevitable. It is not a scientific critique in any acceptable way.