Improvements for the Wikidata Topicmaps UI

May she named Siri (iOS), Cortana (Windows), Helix or whatever, wikidata.org looks to become a pretty damn good place for algorithms to visit if they want to tell you some facts about the world. As these assistants might inform your actions in the world, it might be worth to get to know how such facts are structured and do look when aggregated at your will and turned into a graphic.

Handmade maps based on representation of concepts of the world in wikidata.org is what you can do with the Wikidata Topicmaps UI. Furthermore you can explore relations expressed in wikidata and share it with others in various ways. May it be through sharing an edit, or sharing a glance at your map after sending around the web address. This installation is a service mainly brought to you by volunteering professionals of the DeepaMehta e.V. We think getting to know and taking part in wikidata.org is an exciting opportunity, not only, but especially for younger people. It is the information there and now that most probably also will inform your personal assistant of the future. Now, yesterday, i was able to update the software (Wikidata Search module) running at this service online and therefore i would like say some sentences on what has improved there.

SVG Export and improved touch support

Now, yesterday i was able to update the software (Wikidata Search module) online and therefore i would like say some sentences on what has improved there. The most exciting thing from my perspective is that now, from within the Topicmaps menu you can “Export your Topicmap to SVG”. This feature builds upon some programming work Carolina did. Pressing this button creates a SVG document with all the contents of the currently visible Topicmap. With that SVG you can continue the work on your visualization but with using the expressivenes of a graphics tool like Inkscape or Illustrator. Once created, you will find the exported document using the File Browser (via “Create” > “New File Browser”) functionality. The right file in sight on th right side of your screen, download it via right-click and “Save Image as”.

Additionally: The interface now also comes with an improved support for touch devices implemented by Jörg. So you may be able to use the WTUI now straight away from your tablet, too!

More improvements: Collaboration and sharing modes

Every registered user has now got their own Private Workspace, Topicmaps and other items created here by you are not visible to anybody else unless you “Assign them to another Workspace”. Furthermore, the Topicmaps menu now shows only maps related to the Workspace selected. And if you’re a member of the currently selected Workspace the “Create” menu will appear for you in the upper Toolbar.

If a workspace has the sharing mode “Collaborative” set it means that only the members of that workspace can read and write the items in it, like in some group chat. If a workspace is “Public”, everyone can read but just those users who are members of it can write, similar to the read/write permissions utilized by this blog software. So, if you want to collaborate with another user and edit the same Topicmap, she (or you) need to invite the other one into a e.g. collaborative or public workspace depending who should be able to read what you create. Currently their are five public workspaces, “Wikidata”, “Test”, “UNLP” and “DeepaMehta”.

So let’s just recap this for a moment: Despite we’re able to see the Topicmaps in the, public “DeepaMehta” workspace for example, our changes to these maps will not be permanent (=stored)  if we don’t have write permission to it. And the permission to edit/write in this example translates to: If we are a member of the “DeepaMehta” Workspace we can edit all maps in it.

Initially, just the owner of a workspace can invite new people to collaborate with. This is done through creating a “Membership” association between a topic of type “Username” and the resp. workspace. Once a member one can edit all other memberships and this is meant to be, we should respect others we collaborate with. To inspect who can read a topic just click on the star-icon representing the workspace it is related to. As some help there are some details about the SharingModes explained when you hover the buttons when creating a new workspace (found via the workspace menu).

All workspaces now have so called SharingModes set which govern the permissions of all topics assigned to this workspace. Furthermore each topic can ever only be assigned to one Workspace at a time. For such a complex system we hope that this rule or definition is simple enough as it is everything you need to know to understand who can edit and see your data.

Not much more needs to, but probably will be written about the concept of sharing modes and workspaces in DeepaMehta 4. For now you can’t do much wrong with it so i want to encourage you to give it a try.

Insiders perspective to this upgrade

The following problems and errors were resolved:

  1. The Wikidata Search mode is now selected by default, that is when you open up the interface.
  2. Also the so called “aliases” of an existing entity has don’t add up over several Updates anymore. With the very next update call, all existing alias for entities get cleaned up.
  3. Finally, the Update of existing Wikidata Entities via Import claims is much more robust now.

Next up

If it should be fun to use we definitely need to work on performance gains during updates. Additonally the SVG export process could easily be improved a little. From the data quality side, introducing qualifiers on claim edges as well as integrating “monolingual” text values would be a good gain.

What do you think? I would be happy if you could give it a try and give us some feedback.

Wikidata Visualization challenge, May 2015

Official infos on this submission

Resources being used: The Wikidata (MediaWiki) API, the Wikimedia Commons File API and DeepaMehta 4 as the GNU GPL 3 licensed plugin development environment.
Video graphic: http://youtu.be/7pn1dHWNb3E
Info graphic: See below, a map-image showing states currently “having¹ a diplomatic relationship” and “sharing¹ a border” according to wikidata, illustrating the concept of Statements as edges connecting items.
Accomplishments during competition time: No programming, just using the tool described here to create some exemplary visualizations and an attempt to improve on the documentation through the following article.
Info visualization (interactive): http://wikidata-topicmaps.wmflabs.org/topicmap/32613/topic/133713

Article on this submission

I do not know if this will count as a submission as the last time i coded something for this was April but hey, let’s give it a try. I researched and developed the Wikidata Topicmaps UI, a user interface and a voluntarily “managed” service with which you can ask wikidata simple text queries in your language of choice and interactively construct personal, handmade views on the dataset. I hope you like it and please do not hesitate to give feedback to me. If you can help me to improve it or continue to work on it, that would be awesome too. Especially since this interactive visualizations architecture is open source and pluggable, together, if this kicks you, we could easily work on extending the expressiveness of any visualization users can now make with this service.

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Eigene Notizen und Web Recherche mit DeepaMehta 4

In dieser kleinen Früstückspause wollte ich euch einfach mal einen Einblick in mein sog. “persönliches Informations-Management” geben, eventuell findet ihr dies ja hilfreich um diese freie Software DM 4 selbst einzusetzen.

Angefangen damit akribische Notizen digital zu machen habe ich zuletzt aus der Motivation heraus vielleicht doch mal eine wissenschaftliche Arbeit zu schreiben. Für meine Recherche und das lose Schreiben nutze ich momentan noch DeepaMehta 4.

Wenn ich DM 4 benutze dann sitze ich natürlich meist vorm Bildschirm, sehe, gucke aber gewinne keinerlei Information die ich nicht selbst vorher dort eingetragen habe. Auf den allerersten Blick also, da sieht man erstmal gar nichts bei DM 4. Na ja, fast nichts. Was auf den ersten Blick schon sichtbar ist, ist eine Oberfläche um alle nur denkbaren Informationen in diversen Kontexten (“Workspaces”) zu erstellen (“Create”), zu bearbeiten (“Edit”) und in persönlichen Ansichten (“Topicmaps”) räumlich-visuell (und unabhängig von den Infos selbst) zu organisieren (“abzulegen”).

Dass da anfänglich noch keine Information vorhanden ist, ist schon erstmal etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig, stellt es einem doch (unter Umständen) die nicht triviale Frage nachdem was es eigentlich ist, was einen gerade so interessiert und was man gerne festhalten, in eine persönliche Datenbank eingeben möchte. Mit dem anzufangen was einen gerade so interessiert, bzw. wie man das bezeichnen würde was einen gerade so beschäftigt, ist in jedem Fall ein Anfang um herauszufinden wofür der Gedanke steht, dem man da gerade einen Namen gegeben hat.

Notizen und Web Resourcen

Für meine eigenen Gedanken, bzw. solche die ich unter einem gewissen Namen für mich noch entwickeln möchte, nehme ich immer die gelben Punkte (“Note”) und da ich oft etwas im Web suchen muss, lese ich dann einen vermeintlichen Überblicksartikel zu dem oft englischen (und/oder deutschen) Begriff auf der Wikipedia und merke mit dessen Web-Adresse mit der Erstellung einer blauen Weltkugel (“Web Resource”). In das “Description”-Field ebendieser Web Resource kopiere ich dann (über die Zwischenablage) solche Passagen des Webseiten-Inhalts die mir gerade wichtig erscheinen. Schön ist bei diesem Verfahren, die HTML-Struktur des Inhalts bleibt dabei weitestgehend funktional (i.S.v. sichtbaren Abbildungen und navigierbaren Hyperlinks).

Haben die Webseite und mein Gedanke dann noch etwas gemeinsam dann assoziiere ich einfach meinen eigenen Begriff mit der Web Resource. So trenne ich meine eigenen Notizen und Gedanken erst einmal strikt von denen Dritter. Durch die lose Assoziation kann ich später, beim erneuten aufdecken meiner Notizen, evtl. Einflüsse auf meine Formulierungen direkt wiederfinden. Diese, nun ja, lose aber auch recht strukturierte Vorgehensweise hat wie ich finde ein Gutes, so habe ich die Aussagen Anderer und meine eigenen schon einmal getrennt.

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