The benefit of Semantic MediaWiki

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I can't comment on Tim O'Reilly's blog right now it seems, maybe my answer is too long, or it has too many links, or whatever. It only took some time, my mistake. He blogged about Semantic MediaWiki -- yaay! I'm a fanboy, really -- but he asks "but why hasn't this approach taken off? Because there's no immediate benefit to the user." So I wanted to answer that.

"About Semantic MediaWiki, you ask, "why hasn't this approach taken off?" Well, because we're still hacking :) But besides that, there is a growing number of pages who actually use our beta software, which we are very thankful to (because of all the great feedback). Take a look at discourseDB for example. Great work there!

You give the following answer to your question: "Because there's no immediate benefit". Actually, there is benefit inside the wiki: you can ask for the knowledge that you have made explicit within the wiki. So the idea is that you can make automatic tables like this list of Kings of Judah from the Bible wiki, or this list of upcoming conferences, including a nice timeline visualization. This is immediate benefit for wiki editors: they don't have to make pages like these examples (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or any of these) by hand. Here's were we harness self-interest: wiki editors need to put in less work in order to achieve the same quality of information. Data needs to be entered only once. And as it is accessible to external scripts with standard tools, they can even write scripts to check the correctness or at some form of consistency of the data in the wiki, and they are able to aggregate the data within the wiki and display it in a nice way. We are using it very successfully for our internal knowledge management, where we can simply grab the data and redisplay it as needed. Basically, like a wiki with a bit more DB functionality.

I will refrain from comparing to Freebase, because I haven't seen it yet -- but from what I heard from Robet Cook it seems that we are partially complementary to it. I hope to see it soon :)"

Now, I am afraid since my feed's broken this message will not get picked up by PlanetRDF, and therefore no one will ever see it, darn! :( And it seems I can't use trackback. I really need to update to a real blogging software.

Semantic MediaWiki

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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