Monday, November 13, 2017

WikidataCon - my résumé

The first WikidataCon was a very impressive conference which gave me quite a lot of new ideas on my small niche of topic in that vast database, but also on all the huge other possibilities and applications already done by other users in other fields. It was my first-ever Wikipedia-related conference, not counting the local meetups, so not just the topics presented impressed me, but also the spirit, the professional organization and the number of people devoted to this site.

My own small contribution was a 10 minute lightning talk on how I slowly fill the Thai administrative units into this database, which was recorded and thus anyone who wasn't at the conference can still watch it - my part starts at the 10 minute mark of the Lightning Talks 3. It was incredible how short 10 minute can be, sadly I ran into the time left for questions so couldn't get any feedback then - or was saved the humiliation of nobody asking anything :-)

There were two other talks on very similar topics - a French user who works on keeping the communal groups in France up-to-date in Wikidata and Wikipedia,  and one by a representative of the Indian company Mapbox on translating the subdivision names for multilingual maps. I couldn't attend the talks of the politics group as it overlapped with other talks, and still have to watch the recording of that, but those few things I saw already were also impressive, especially what can be done with a good visualization to make the dry data look sexy.

By coincidence, I just read one chapter in the book "The politics of (no) election in Thailand" in which the author presented an analysis of how many member of the Thai parliament have family relations with other current or former MPs. It must have been a very tedious work to compile the data for that paper, but if all the Thai MPs would be in Wikidata with their parliament terms and family relations set, all which would then be left to do is to write a relatively easy SPARQL call. I randomly added such data to Thai politicians before, but doing it systematically is beyond what I could do with my time and access to sources.

Another topic which I had worked on a bit, and even posted in this blog occasionally, are the officially registered monuments. By this conference I learned that the Thai monument list is about to be added into Wikidata, so to make it possible to get it there smoothly I have to add the remaining Tambon to Wikidata. Currently I am working through the already existing articles in the Thai Wikipedia, to make sure that there won't be any mix-up of e.g. same-named temples in totally different parts of the country. The great visualization by Monumental then makes it easy to e.g. see all the monuments around Surat Thani, especially showing how many still need a photographer to visit them.

Speaking of photographs - seeing all the visualizations using photos to illustrate the database items reminded me that I have to take the time to work through my big pile of unprocessed photos to upload and link them to the administrative units - have lots of district offices and local government offices in my collection - or monuments - when staying in Bangkok Noi area I walked around often and nearly covered all the monuments of that district.

The other big thing needed to get great visualizations for my data would require more mapping - if there were more boundary shapesets for the subdivisions, filling them with data would be relatively easy. But as far as I know on OpenStreetMap only the provinces have their (rough) boundaries included, and only very few smaller units in Bangkok and vicinity. The problem is of course getting both free and authoritative boundaries, only thing I know yet are the few Royal Gazette announcements which include maps, and those with the purely textual boundary definition.

And in short the tldr; summary: Where to register to attend the next WikidataCon in 2019? And: so many ideas, so few time.