Most important software project

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about Semantic MediaWiki than I said over a year ago. The summary is to turn the universal encyclopedia into the universal database while simultaneously improving the quality of the encyclopedia.

Flip through Denny Vrandecic’s recent presentations on Semantic MediaWiki (a smaller pdf version not directly linked in that post). There’s some technical content, but flip past that and you should still get the idea and be very excited.

I predict that Semantic MediaWiki also will be the killer application for the Semantic Web that so many have been skeptical of.

Yaron Koren also says that Semantic MediaWiki is “the technology that will revolutionize the web” and has built DiscourseDB using the software. DiscourseDB catalogs political opinion pieces. Koren’s post on aggregating analysis using DiscouseDB. Unsurprisingly this analysis shows the political experts making bad calls.

Koren also has created Betocracy, another play money prediction market where users create claims. It looks like Betocracy is going for a blog-like interface, but I can’t say more as registration obtains a database error.

One prediction market and Semantic MediaWiki connection is that making data more accessible makes prediction markets more feasible. Obtaining data necessary to create and judge prediction market contracts is expensive.

On that note Swivel also looks interesting. Some have called it data porn. Speaking of porn, see Strange Maps.

13 Responses

  1. Yaron says:

    Hey, thanks for the links. You have a very appropriate name for the task. :)

    First off, Betocracy registration is working again; that was a bug caused by changes I made two days ago. My apologies; I hope you do try registering again and check out the site, because I’d be very curious to hear what you think about it.

    To clarify, I said only that semantic wiki, not Semantic MediaWiki, will revolutionize the web. At this point, Semantic MediaWiki is as far as I know the best implementation of the concept, but as it gets more popular (which I think it will), I’m sure there’ll be other good implementations.

    I also don’t know if adding semantic capabilities to Wikipedia is the answer, though people have talked about it; it would add a whole lot to the semantic ecosystem, obviously, but at the same time it has the potential to destroy Wikipedia, by overrunning a set of easy-to-edit text files with a huge system of arbitrary tags that would confuse almost everyone. I think there’s more promise in dedicated sites like, well, Discourse DB, that focus on one small set of knowledge and have well-defined attributes and relations.

    But clearly we agree on the big issues, like the promise of aggregation.

  2. I collapsed this from your home page:

    # Ruby on Rails – the technology that will revolutionize the web. You heard it here first.
    # Semantic MediaWiki – oh, did I say Ruby on Rails? I meant semantic wiki.

    But did so incorrectly, oops.

    I don’t think SMW markup would confuse most wikipedians. SMW markup is simple relative to the mess of templates currently used. And those same templates can be used to capture many SMW assertions, as you’ve done with DiscourseDB.

    Betocracy registration does work now, off to look at the site…

  3. Yaron says:

    Hey, as long as all the semantic data’s represented with templates, there won’t be a serious problem. It’s when people decide they want to do free-form tagging that I see the potential for a lot of chaos. But maybe there’s just a simple technical solution to only allow semantic data within templates.

  4. […] The appropriately-named Mike Linksvayer thinks that Semantic MediaWiki will be the “killer application for the Semantic Web”, and discusses Discourse DB. I agree that wikis are the best (and maybe only good) way to create online semantic data, although I think we disagree about whether that should come through a single, comprehensive site like Wikipedia or a large set of specialized sites (I go with the latter). On that note, he set up a site on Betocracy and I’m tickled at the market he created. […]

  5. […] I like Brin’s point that “One advantage of registries is that they can be involuntary.” A pundit can only avoid inclusion by effectively not making predictions (which may include being wishy-washy and imprecise). I conjecture that DiscourseDB (I mentioned previously) is a model of what a prediction registry would look like — just imagine cataloging “will” rather than “should” opinions, and add evaluation. […]

  6. […] An advertising-fueled Mediawiki Foundation could fund dozens of much needed Mozilla Firefox sized projects. And many Creative Commons (which just successfully completed its much more modest annual funding campaign) initiatives. :) […]

  7. Gregory Kohs says:

    As long as we’re singing the praises of Semantic Mediawiki, let me mention that is building a very robust business and personal Directory, using the SMW architecture. We’ve spent the last four months testing and trialing various applications within it, and now real, live users are starting to get the hang of it. The rub is that we’ve reserved a “space” in Centiare called “Directory” that only allows access to an article to the “last non-administrative user of record”. Only legal entities are allowed to be listed in Directory Space. That means Joe Blow can’t edit (or vandalize) the Directory listing for Microsoft Corp.

    We’ve got one guy who’s building out Directory space (all semantically tagged) for various tourist destinations across the world — maybe he’ll take down Wikitravel in the process. We’ve got another user building a recipe database that, when fleshed out more completely, will allow visitors to not only look at the recipe for “egg rolls”, but then click to ALL recipes that happen to have “shrimp” in them.

    Seriously, if the “common man” can learn to acquire the skills it takes to understand and write in the Semantic Mediawiki mark-up language, there’s no reason why Centiare couldn’t be bigger and better than MySpace, or Hoover’s, or even Craigslist.

  8. Gregory, good luck SEOing the SEOers. Nice technology though.

  9. Ben Tremblay says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Yaron on aggregation. Earlier today I was exchanging email with a fellow who’s working through the IPCC report. Now, I ask, what software would allow him to keep his good efforts out of his personal silo? (A blog? Please … let’s get real.) For my money “Thinking Cap” (by Broderbund, for the C=64, circa 1985) and the hypertext tool I was running under DOS3.2 enabled me more throughput then the (fabulously glorious) widgits and mashups I spend my days perusing. (see … stalled from sheer over-flow).

    As for funding … my “Participatory Deliberation” has been in stealth mode since I pulled my graphic-based prototype in August of 2002. As I say in my wiki, I’m intent on a private entity to properly fund development of an OpenSource project.

    p.s. bottom line for me: Habermasian discourse in a dialectical document system.

  10. […] CC is finally using what I called the most important software project (to a much greater extent on the intranet; and not mentioned, other semantic technologies […]

  11. […] Most important software project […]

  12. […] the most prominent of those ideas, Semantic MediaWiki (SMW), which I later (8 years ago) called the most important software project and said would “turn the universal encyclopedia into the universal database while […]

  13. […] years ago I helped launch AcaWiki, a site based on Semantic MediaWiki (software for which I had very high expectations, mostly transferred to Wikidata) for summarizing academic […]

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