Tuesday, March 20, 2018

#WeMissTurkey - the geography and organisation of the #Ottoman Empire

This map shows the development of the Ottoman Empire over time. Its accuracy may be disputed but it is among the best Wikimedia has to offer at this time.

This animated gif is really good at what it does. With all the basic parts available, it becomes possible to expand on these maps. The Ottoman empire was divided in "eyalets" and these were divided in "sanjaks". The size and the composition of these eyalets changed over time. An animation of these changes helps understand developments in for instance the Balkan.

At this time sanjaks are added to Wikidata and, this proves to be not that straight forward. Most of them do not have an article in any language. The spelling of the same sanjak differs in places and for some eyalets a modern interpretation is sought in order to provide some "legitimacy" of later developments; in one instance even the mentioning of the composite sanjaks is deliberately missing.

The governance of the Ottoman Empire was obviously along the line of these eyalats and sanjaks. For the eyalets there were "beylerbeys" and for the sanjaks "sanjak-beys". These offices were largely non-hereditary and during one time the composition of them was for quite some time by people originating from the Balkan.

When you consider the administrative organisation of the Ottoman Empire, there is a list of all the Sultans and their Grand Viziers. For the successions of other important functionaries there is still a lot that can be done.

When you are willing to help; please. Adding labels in other languages particularly Turkish will make a real difference. Adding missing humans in Wikidata and link them into a succession of functionaries will help a lot. It enables the provision of lists and they may be used in any language. When you are able to hack maps.. That would be really important; it is how all this information may come together.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

#Wikipedia - throwing the baby out with the bath water

Dear Asaf; there are no pet peeves. There is only my wish for us to be the best we can.

When YouTube is to use Wikipedia to give a background to its offerings, there will be a lot where Wikipedia falls short. We do not offer information on May Ying Welsh for instance. We do not know about the Pardes Humanitarian Prize and, do we report on the current Dalit protests in Maharashtra?

It is not a peeve when I notice how many errors can be found in Wikipedia, particularly in lists, and people do not concentrate on the differences of what Wikipedia knows and what is known elsewhere. This is particularly sad because time invested curating these differences is well spend and it is imho the most effective defence against fake news and fake facts.

When my question is "will YouTube use more than just English", you know as well as I do that English Wikipedia is less than 50% of what our audience read. When the other half does not deserve consideration, it is more than a peeve. It is in these other languages where the danger of fake news is even worse.

Basic facts on any NPOV article are the same in any language.  When they differ, they are where you can expect misinformation. With curated basis information available, it is possible to use natural language technology to provide at least some basic information. You have expressed that this is not something for the Wikimedia Foundation to be interested in (Cebuano remember?).

Asaf; you may hold the keys to what I post on the Wikimedia mailing list and you may privately consider me problematic. However, it is your excess in public ridicule and lack of arguments that is a disservice to what we aim to achieve; it is why we face of. In this you represent an attitude that will not see us provide the best we can offer in a changing landscape where we now have an opportunity to become relevant in debunking the worst of what YouTube has to offer.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oostvaardersplassen - unintended consequences

When there are too many animals and there is too little for them to eat, they die. This happens regularly in winter in the Oostvaardersplassen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands.

The Oostvaardersplassen were created to provide a place for geese to feed. It takes deer, cattle and horses to prevent the development of a wood. Geese like grass short and it is why these animals were released in the Oostvaardersplassen

In the past there have proposals to provide more room for the animals because in winter they die in huge numbers. Providing room is not possible by an unending cycle of adding new grounds to the Oostvaardersplassen but it is possibe to make a connection to the Veluwe and extend this to the nature alongside of the Dutch rivers connecting even further to Germany. This plan that was actively developed was at the last moment shot down by politicians.

Given that "animal lovers" are bringing hay feeding some of the animals, it resulted in such an upheaval under the animals that Staatsbosbeheer prefers to feed them themselves. In the past they pronounced what they would do when pressed. They will shoot the animals and bring the numbers down by half maybe even more. Nature will respond positively after such a catastrophe. It will invigorate nature and make the Oostvaardersplassen less of a meadow.

Natural predation like by a pack of wolfs would make a difference. Wolfs are finding their way into the Netherlands, they only have to find their way to the Oostvaardersplassen and call it home.

Friday, March 02, 2018

#Wikidata - Vikram Patel and missing awards

Mr Patel received many awards; for one of them you see illustrated what the award looks like. This award was missing in the Wikipedia article. Another award, the Chalmers Medal by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, was mentioned but there is no information about other award winners.

Other awards for this society had their own item but no enrichment had taken place. They are now at least linked and award winners with a Wikipedia article are now also linked.

Linking people through awards, through their employers, their education provides an entry point to a subject like "Tropical Medicine and Hygiene". When this is a subject that matters to you, Mr Patel is the first one listed to have received the Chalmers award; this award started in 1923 so you can add all of them to Wikidata or write Wikipedia articles to these notable people.

When you consider notability, would it not be an argument to use against the Wikipedia deletionists when there is plenty of information at Wikidata?

Thursday, March 01, 2018

#Wikipedia - Why the deletion of a George Polk Award winner?

There used to be an article for May Ying Welsh. She received the George Polk Award in 2011, wrote a script for a film she directed Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark, a film that was well received.

The article is gone. But it is not because there was no notability. May Ying Welsh remains notable at Wikidata because she won the Polk award, wrote and directed a movie.. Structural need is why many people are added.

I could ask to see what the article looked like. But what is the point? My point is that Wikipedia fails itself and its audience because of a self imposed lack of information. A message that is not allowed to be raised on the Wikimedia mailing list.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

#Wikimedia - The George Polk Award winners; how to catch them all

It is this time of year again; the George Polk Awards have been announced. Last year I spend a lot of time adding information to and cleaning the data at Wikidata. There are over 500 award winners known so Reasonator does not catch them all.  Listeria shows more data but multiple entries are an issue.

There are multiple reasons to complete a list like this. In this way celebrated journalists like Michael Winerip  or Michael Schwirtz finally get their presence in the Wikimedia world. It is a way to celebrate journalism, important enough in this time of fake news and, it is a demonstration how data at Wikidata can extend the quality of Wikipedia's information.

Given the amount of award winners, it takes too much time to do all the work in one go. It is now largely a matter of adding the red and "black" linked award winners. At this time it is the 2014 award winners who are being added.

The problem is that time spend on one award takes away time from other projects, equally deserving. Projects like completing information on US governors or British governors. How to register information like epidemics because their impact is not fully appreciated. How to make plain that a source has a negative impact when it is actually retracted..

Anyway, congratulation to the George Polk Award winners for 2017; that their career may blossom with this recognition.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

#Wikidata - William Gorges, first colonial governor of the Province of Maine

Mr Gorges was born in Britain, he died in Britain. He was tasked to oversee investments for two years by a nephew and as a result he was the first colonial governor of the province of Maine. Consequently he is said to be a citizen of the USA, (he died in February 1658)..

The problem with nationality and citizenship is that we tend to adopt people as belonging to something that did not exist at the time and consequently it is a falsehood. It is the same with all these generals, governors of the confederacy; they did not identify with the United States of America, they had their own state they swore allegiance to, so why call them citizen of the USA? How dare we?

It is the same for people from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. They may have opposed the Brits but from a nationality point of view, their behaviour was judged by the British laws.

Associating people with states / nations that may not even have existed at the time are false facts, pure and simple.