Wikidata reaches 100,000 entries
Wikidata, the new "Wikimedia Commons for data" and the first new Wikimedia project since 2006, reached 100,000 entries this week. The project aims to be a single, human- and machine-readable database for common data, spanning across all Wikipedia projects, which will "lead to a higher consistency and quality within Wikipedia articles, as well as increased availability of information in the smaller language editions" while lowering the burden on Wikipedia's volunteer editors—whose numbers have stalled overall, and continue to dwindle on the English Wikipedia.
Wikidata is currently in the first of three phases. The site is currently only accepting interwiki links to different-language versions of a page. For example, the 100,000th entry, Cadier en Keer, has only a short description and four links to Wikipedia articles in English, French, Dutch, and Limburgish. The second phase will start the actual collection and storage of data, so that Cadier en Keer will contain basic statistics such as country, province, size, and population. It aims to supplement the infoboxes which many Wikipedias use to display this common data. The third phase will allow anyone to make lists and charts based on the statistics.
The project raised €1.3M (US$1.87M), for development from three major funders: half from Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; a quarter from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore; and a final quarter from Google, who said that "[our] mission is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful ... we hope [Wikidata] will make significant amounts of structured data available to all." It has eight developers actively working on its infrastructure.
The fast growth of what Linux User & Developer calls "Wikipedia's Game-changer"—over 100,000 entries in one month, with over 800 active users—bodes well for the site so far. In time, Wikidata's overarching goals may seem lofty: one of the original funders stated that "Wikidata ... will transform the way that encyclopedia data is published, made available, and used by a global audience. [It] will build on semantic technology that we have long supported, will accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, and will create an extraordinary new data resource for the world."
Yet even detractors believe that Wikidata has a high potential for expanding human knowledge in the world: "a primary goal ... [is] to make information in Wikipedia much more understandable to artificial intelligence systems. In other words, Wikidata—if successful—is going to form the 'brains' of many future technologies and online platforms."
- RENDER milestone: RENDER, a seven-partner (including Wikimedia Germany) program attempting to "develop methods, techniques, software and data sets which enable both scholars and users of internet applications such as Wikipedia to understand, to describe, to process and to make use the diversity of knowledge and information", has reached its second of three years of operation (link is in German).
- WMF calls for more OSM involvement: the Wikimedia Foundation has announced its intention to develop a Tile Map Service from OpenStreetMap for Wikimedia sites. They also called for a "face-to-face meetup/hackfest [for] geodata/mapping related development work [to be held] sometime around Feb/March 2013," where the WMF would offer sponsorships for "key developers" to attend.
Check back for the next Signpost