Teaching SPARQL with Wikidata
At the moment at Oxford we are looking for opportunities for collaborative work with other institutions. There is a group interested in further developing the Astrolabe Explorer application, who proposed a project that wasn't funded, but we are looking for other funding options. We have also put out emails looking for collaboration with other GLAM institutions on Wikidata sharing and visualisation of collection data. I have met with the Bodleian Japanese Librarian who is interested in making interactive Wikidata-driven maps and timelines about Japanese publications, and is now looking for other institutions to partner with.
I've created a mockup for a Wikidata-driven interface for tagging items that are depicted in art. Whereas the AI-driven approach pioneered by Andrew Lih allows a wide audience to rapidly tag common items from a defined set that appear in art, this application would enable very specific depiction statements, such as distinguishing Gautama Buddha from Amitabha Buddha. It would need further development to make this into a full application, and we still need to plan the workflow about how the depiction statements would get into Wikidata.
SPARQL as a Foreign Language
On 28 February I gave a "SPARQL as a Foreign Language" workshop to 13 library staff. The idea was to get people using the Wikidata Query Service without discussing namespaces, LOD, RDF or any technical jargon. It was fun! One participant made a map and sent it to her colleagues during the session, and got the response "WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?"
We didn't get far in two hours: as with a lot of training, it has to go at a slow pace to make sure everyone keeps up. By the end, trainees could make multi-statement queries, including optional statements, and present them in different views including maps, but we did not get to filtering. Though I tried to introduce concepts one at a time, when we got to actually using the WD query service, there was a lot for people to take in. However, I encouraged the others to experiment with the query examples and with the different views, which they did.
I deliberately made the session about SPARQL and not about Wikidata, but the trainees raised questions about how data get into Wikidata and how it could be made more complete. It turned out to be a way to get people curious about Wikidata and how they could contribute to it.
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