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Tag: Sum of all human knowledge

COMING SOON: Wikidata & Wikisource Showcase for Repo-Fringe

Wikisource logo

Wikisource logo

Wikidata logo

Wikidata logo

For Repo-Fringe 2016, myself and Histropedia’s Navino Evans will be co-presenting a showcase of two of Wikipedia’s sister projects: Wikisource, the free content library, and Wikidata, the structured data knowledge base. With both projects, it is not about what they hold in their repositories so much as what that knowledge means to the user able to access it; be it the experience of being able to commune with the past through Wikisource for those authentic ‘shiver-inducing’ moments of digital contact with library & archival materials or being able to manipulate & visualise structured data through Wikidata, actually querying & utilising information on Wikipedia, as never before in myriad ways. The possibilities for both projects are endless and highlight the importance of curating & safeguarding repositories of open knowledge such as these.

Hence our showcase event, as part of Repository Fringe 2016 on 2nd August at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh, will focus on this and provide practical demonstrations of how to engage with the past, present & future with these two projects.

Consequently, the English teacher part of me has opted for a title which attempts to sum this up:

“It’s not what you do. It’s what it does to you.”

Wikidata and Wikisource Showcase – 2nd August 2016

Engaging with the past, present & future with Wikipedia’s sister projects.

This is a nod to Simon Armitage’s poem, ‘It ain’t what you do, it’s what it does to you‘, a hymn of praise to the experiential.


It ain’t what you do, it’s what it does to you


I have not bummed across America
with only a dollar to spare, one pair
of busted Levi’s and a bowie knife.
I have lived with thieves in Manchester.

I have not padded through the Taj Mahal,
barefoot, listening to the space between
each footfall picking up and putting down
its print against the marble floor. But I

skimmed flat stones across Black Moss on a day
so still I could hear each set of ripples
as they crossed. I felt each stone’s inertia
spend itself against the water; then sink.

I have not toyed with a parachute cord
while perched on the lip of a light-aircraft;
but I held the wobbly head of a boy
at the day centre, and stroked his fat hands.

And I guess that the tightness in the throat
and the tiny cascading sensation
somewhere inside us are both part of that
sense of something else. That feeling, I mean.

In addition, I am reminded of another poem on the power of the experiential:

The famous aviation poem written in 1941 by 19-year-old Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr, three months before he was killed.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Editing Wikipedia is easy with Visual Editor

I recently found myself chatting with a software engineer friend of mine about the Wikimedian in Residence project at the University of Edinburgh. He proclaimed two things that he felt were ‘acknowledged truths’ which everyone understood about editing Wikipedia.

  1. “You can’t add to Wikipedia. Wikipedia already has EVERYTHING in the entire world within it so there is never any need to add anything more to it.”
Wikipedia's Quality and Ratings scale

Wikipedia’s Quality and Ratings scale – Screengrab from Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA)

As this graphic shows Wikipedia has a ‘Quality and Ratings‘ scale which shows the sheer quantity of English Wikipedia articles (over 5 million) but tellingly only a fraction are deemed of such high quality that they can be the ‘featured article’ (FA) on Wikipedia’s front page. Indeed as the second Pi chart shows (above right), over 50% of the articles on Wikipedia are short ‘stub’ articles (the red ‘stub class’ section).

Hence, while Wikipedia has sought in its first 15 years to achieve the ‘sum of all human knowledge‘ it is not quote there yet. Not quite.

The quantity of articles is there but the quality can certainly be improved. Which is why partnerships between Wikimedia UK and institutions like the University of Edinburgh are so important for both communities. The quantity and quality of Wikipedia’s content is improved by the process of knowledge exchange and the partner institution’s knowledge & expertise is successfully curated & disseminated throughout the world utilising a medium with unparalleled reach and influence.

Screengrab from ‘How to work successfully with Wikipedia’ WMUK GLAM Booklet 2014 (CC-BY-SA)

Screengrab from ‘How to work successfully with Wikipedia’ WMUK GLAM Booklet 2014 (CC-BY-SA)

The second thing my software engineer chum said was:

2. “Editing in Wikipedia using the markup programming language is easy.”

This may well be true. Using the markup language is not that difficult when one considers other programming languages out there but, of course, a software engineer would feel ‘markup’ was easy to use. Other people without the same degree of programming experience may not necessarily feel the same degree of confidence.

This is why Wikipedia’s introduction of the new ‘Visual Editor‘ interface is a HUGE leap forward in allowing would-be editors from all backgrounds to edit with confidence. The new interface has taken years to develop and implement and makes editing so much easier. It is a WYSIWYG interface (What You See Is What You Get) so makes the days of considering the foibles of programming language when creating/editing Wiki articles a thing of the past. Instead, using the Visual Editor makes editing Wikipedia much more like using Microsoft Word or WordPress.

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s a short clip to introduce Visual Editor.


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