Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Semantic Wiki - Semantics into Wiki

This is my first blog post and I am geared up to give you folks an abstract idea and a motivation on The Semantic Wiki which is a much needed concept to the world of information and knowledge, but still in the baby age.

This  concept is rather  an  amateur concept with a history of not more than 15 years, first proposed in the early 2000s and implemented seriously around 2005. It is something like the concept of semantic web (Semantic web is simply a broader concept and knowledge area related to storing meaning of data with Ontologies) injected into the formal wikis where the textual information in the wikis carry meaning and more meaningful linkages between pages are constructed while the information in the wiki can be queried as in a database through semantic queries. 

What is wiki?

Before jumping into the ocean directly let us clarify what is a wiki simply. Wikipedia itself, which is a wiki,  defines “Wiki” as “an application, typically a  web application, which allows  collaborative  modification, extension, or deletion  of its content and structure”.  The word “collaborative” is the most important fact here. A wiki article has no single defined owner or editor.

It is nourished by the knowledge of millions of people all over the world.  The word “wiki” is 
actually a Hawaiian word meaning “quick”. The following wiki principles  clearly defines a wiki 
as it is.

1.  Wikis allow anyone to edit
2.  Easy to use and do not require additional software
3.  Content is easy to link
4.  Support versioning of all changes
5.  Support all media

MediaWiki is  the world’s top wiki engine amongst others such as MoinMoin, PhpWiki, Xwiki, OddMuseWiki, etc.. and these wiki engines do the same implied task of acting as an ENGINE for a wiki, in the sense that wikis are built on these wiki engines.

What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is the world’s most popular wiki and it is based on the wiki engine MediaWiki. Term “pedia” carries the meaning of “encyclopedia” and  wiki+edia sums up as a ‘quick encyclopedia’. MediaWiki was developed by the Wikipedia community. Wikipedia is availableon the web under a free licence. This Wikipedia was created by Jimbo Wales and Larry Sanger in January 2001. Wikipedia is having articles in 287 languages/editions and English is the largest. It has over 4.7 million articles in English in the Wikipedia.

Further Requirements Emerge

Wiki is undoubtedly a valuable source of universal data, information and knowledge though some limitations came to be obvious comparing to other modern world data stores, databases, big data, etc… The biggest issue is related to how to query the information as you like. How to extract certain constrained information filtered with certain parameters via Wikipedia?

For example we know Wikipedia has articles about all cities, their populations, their mayors, th skycrappers, etc… So can you ask from Wikipedia for a list of world’s 5 largest cities with a female mayor? ..or Skycrapppers in Shanghai with 50+ floors and built after 2000 ? Certainly no. Such queries are not supported by Wikipedia other than a simple text search. So in order to answer this issue, the Semantic web developers implemented their concept in the wikis.

What is Semantic Wiki?

Semantic wikis said to have combined the strengths of both Semantic wiki and wiki. Semantic web is machine processable, consist of integrated data and it supports complex queries. Wiki in a nut shell, is easy to use, contribute and collaborate, strongly interconnected. So the cream of both 2 are in this Semantic wiki. Examples for some semantic wikis are Acetic, ArtificialMemory, Wagn,  Knoodl, KiWi,  OntoWiki, Semantic MediaWiki. The Semantic MediaWiki is  the best-known semantic wiki software, and the only one with significant usage on public websites. It is an extension to MediaWiki that turns it into a semantic wiki.

If clarify further, guess in a normal wiki there is an article about London. (refer the following figure) It has hyperlinks to several other pages on articles such as England, United Kindom, New York City. But if we apply semantics into it, these links would have meaning. i.e. London and England is connected as London “is capital of” England. “is capital of” is the relation(link type) which link “London” page with “England” page. It is actually a property of London. So even very simple search algorithms would then suffice to provide a precise answer to the question “What is the capital of England?”

Two Perspectives

There are two significant perspectives on semantic wiki. They are Wikis for meta data and meta data for wiki.
  •  Wikis for Meta Data
              If a semantic wiki was successfully and completely created, those wikis can be used to create     metadata and ontology for the use of semantic web.
  •   Metadata for wiki

             Even though there is Huge amounts of digital content (e.g. Wikipedia) with strong                      connection   of content via hyperlinks, creating metadata from them is extremely time                consuming and so difficult.

    Strength of Semantic Wikis

According to the above diagram we can see that the semantic wikis have all the strengths of Semantic Web, Metaweb, Web and Social Software. And we can see that it has a highest degree of both social connectivity and information connectivity. So doesn't this itself give the hint for us to learn, use, develop, support this edgy technology.

...and mmm... that's it for now guys.. My next post would make you dive a bit deeper into the basic concepts of semantic wikis. Be hopeful.. ;-)

Hope you learned something. Comments and suggestions are highly appreciated and please share this with your friends, if you found this useful. Cheers...!

Read my next post More on Semantic Wiki...

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