Wikipedia is Popular!

I recently wrote a blog post in which I asked How Well-Read Are Technical Wikipedia Articles? The statistics I quoted seemed to suggest that content provided in Wikipedia is well-read. This, for me, suggests that we should be making greater efforts to enhance the content provided in Wikipedia – and avoid having valuable content being hidden away in large PDF reports which few people are likely to read.

Wikipedia Infobox for HTML5 entry

Wikipedia Infoboxes

But in addition to the content providing in Wikipedia it also seems to me that we should be making more of an effort in exploiting the potential of the Wikipedia Infoboxes.

An infobox is described as “a fixed-format table designed to be added to the top right-hand corner of articles to consistently present a summary of some unifying aspect that the articles share and to improve navigation to other interrelated articles“.

An example of an infobox for the HTML5 Wikipedia entry is shown. As suggested by the definition it provides a summary of the key aspects of the HTML5 markup language. If you view the entry for HTML you will similar information which is presented in a similar fashion.

The infoboxes provide consistency in the user interface for groups of related Wikipedia pages. A better example can be gained if you look at entries for countries or cities. For example view the entries for the UK and USA or Bath, Bristol and London to see how the infoboxes are being used in these contexts.

If the Infoxes were solely concerned with the user display I wouldn’t be too interested. However these sets of structured information form the basis of the content which is used in DBpedia. And the ability to process such information when it is provided in Linked Data is really interesting.

An example of the potential for DBpedia has been described by Martin Poulter in a post on Getting information about UK HE from Wikipedia which explores some of the ideas I discussed on A Challenge To Linked Data Developers. But rather than discussing how DBpedia might be used to analyse data about Universities in this post I want to explore its potential for exploring information about technical standards.

DBpedia and Relationships Between Technical Standards

The DBpedia RelFinder illustrates how such structured and linked information can be processed. I used this service to explore the relationships between the Wikipedia infobox entries for XML, XSLT and the World Wide Web Consortium. The output is illustrated below.

Relationships between W3C, XML and XSLT

If we are looking to provide developers with a better understanding of important technical standards and their relationships, rather than writing reports which provide such information wouldn’t it be more effective if we ensured that we engaged in the creation and maintenance of such information provided in infoboxes in Wikipedia entries as well as contributing to the content of such pages?

If you look at the entry for the metadata standards for MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema) or METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) you’ll find that these entries do not (currently) have an infobox. Similarly the entry for DCMI is also lacking such structured reusable metatadata – which is perhaps disappointing for a organisation which is about metadata.

Isn’t it time to engage more with Wikipedia? And if the development community across the UK HE sector were to do this in a pro-active fashion wouldn’t this be a good example of how the benefits can be shared more widely? The Big Society, perhaps?

Links between JISC projectsI’ll conclude by saying that if you are still unclear as to what a visualisation of the relations between such resources might look like you can view a video in which Balviar Notay illustrates how such an application might be used for “a search tool that visualises the links between JISC projects to help explore the knowledge that the projects have produced“.