Why is Wikidata important to you?
You may not know it yet, but Wikidata is very important to you. For years most people were suspicious or cautious about Wikipedia being a reliable source. Now the Library of Congress tracks items in Wikidata, making it an authority whose reliability has improved significantly in recent years. And the ARL, IFLA, and the PCC have all pledged their support of improving the repository. Wikidata is surging in popularity and is going to occupy a similarly influential space in our lives.
Wikidata is the centralized, linked data repository for all Wikimedia projects. This means that all Wikimedia projects (Commons and Wikipedia for instance) can pull the information from the same central place. This also means that all 300+ language versions of Wikipedia can pull data from Wikidata as well. There is incredible potential for more access to information, more consistency across different languages, and the ability for any language-speaker to contribute more equitably.
Beyond the effect it is having in Wiki-verse, Wikidata is machine readable. This means that digital assistants, AI, bots, and scripts can interact with Wikidata’s structured, linked data. With one of the world’s largest databases of freely licensed (CC-0), open data, software will be able to better answer your questions, provide more context when you search, and link you to related sources in an efficient way. Additionally, this has implications for increased visibility in Google’s search results, elevating more accurate information to above the fold for countless concepts, events, and individuals.
For those in academia, consider the impact linked data has on libraries. More and more collections are being linked through authority control, structured vocabulary, and other identifiers. Wikidata (and the database software it runs on, Wikibase) are allowing institutions to connect their data like never before. The GND in Germany is a great example of how ambitious these projects can be. Other projects like the Sum of All Paintings/Crotos demonstrate how easy it is to share entire collections with anyone, anywhere. Once entire collections are in Wikidata, users can pull specific information from Wikidata using a powerful query service. Queries can reveal new insights like the location of cities with current mayors who identify as female, urban population distribution, and customizable lists of Chemistry Nobel Prize Winners.
Building off of these examples, it becomes a logical next step to increase the representation of library collections on Wikidata. The beauty of Wikidata being open is that anyone can pull information from it to enrich a collection, improve research or help illustrate a point in a presentation with a visualization. Imagine the impact on access and visibility integrating an archive, special collections, or general collection on a Wikimedia project could have.
Interested in learning more about Wikidata? Wiki Education is facilitating online courses and in-person workshops this July that embed participants in the possibilities of Wikidata. We’re eager to train new editors and foster a passionate, inclusive community on Wikidata. Find more information and sign up today at data.wikiedu.org.