Posts Tagged ‘Denny Vrandecic’

Hello, Good-Bye at Wikidata

rsz_wikidLast week saw Denny Vrandecic leave Wikidata as director of the project that as of last week passed a milestone of 20 million statements and as of this Monday saw the creation of its fifteen-millionth item, about a Wikipedia category related to beetles. This week also sees Lydia Pintscher, community communications for technical projects including Wikidata, take on the responsibility of product manager for Wikidata.

In a farewell blog post, entitled Data For the People, Vrandecic provided his thoughts about how far Wikidata has come, as well as the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.

The Semantic Web Blog caught up with Vrandecic, who spoke at the recent SemTech in San Francisco in June, for a little more perspective on the future – Wikidata’s and his own. When it comes to what he’d note as is accomplishments, Vrandecic said that he usually would name the size of the project, citing Wikidata’s community of 3,900 active editors, of whom a third have not been contributors to Wikimedia projects before. “This is, after Wikipedia and Commons, the third-largest Wikimedia project.

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At SemTechBiz, Knowledge Graphs Are Everywhere

Sing along with me to this classic hit from 1980: “Knowledge graphs are everywhere; They’re everywhere; My mind describes them to me.”

Our Daughter’s Wedding’s song Lawn Chairs. But it’s a good description of some of the activity at the Semantic Technology & Business Conference this week, which saw Google, Yahoo and Wikidata chatting up the topic of Knowledge Graphs. On Tuesday, for example, Google’s Jason Douglas provided insight into how the search giant’s Knowledge Graph is critical to meeting a new world of search requirements that’s focused on providing answers and acting in an anticipatory way (see story here), while Wednesday’s closing keynote had Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. project director Denny Vrandecic getting the audience up to date with Wikidata – aka, Wikipedia’s Knowledge Graph For, And By, Everyone.

There are some 280 language versions of Wikipedia for which Wikidata serves as the common source of structured data. Wikidata now has an entity base of more than 12 million items that represent the topics of Wikipedia articles, Vrandecic said during his presentation.

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Wikidata: People And Bots Busy Filling The System In Phase One

Ever heard of the Finnish television series Matkaoppaat? It’s a program about tour guides abroad – something of a reality show that looks like it has already spawned copycat programs with more on the way in other countries.

But of more interest to readers of The Semantic Web Blog is that just a couple of days ago, the series was added as item Q1000000 to Wikidata, on the heels of other recent entries like the English town Newton-le-Willows (item ID Q750000) and American alpine skier Tim Jitloff (ID Q500000). They’re following in the footsteps of earlier items like Dutch Wikipedia (ID Q10000), which was added just four days after Wikidata was launched on Oct. 30.

“Right now the system is launched (since end of October) and people and bots are filling it,” says Wikidata project director Denny Vrandecic, of the Wikimedia Foundation’s effort to create a free knowledge base about the world that can be read and edited by humans and machines alike.

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Wikidata, and a clash of world views

Remember the days before Wikipedia had all the answers? We looked things up in libraries, referring to shelf-filling encyclopaedias. We bought CD-ROMs (remember them?) full of facts and pictures and video clips. We asked people. Sometimes, school home work actually required some work more strenuous than a cut and paste. We went about our business without remembering that New Coke briefly entered our lives on this day in 1985.

Wikipedia is far from perfect, and some of the concern around its role in a wider dumbing down of thought and argument may be justified. But, despite that, it’s a remarkable achievement and a wonderful resource. Those who argued that it would never work have clearly been proven wrong. Carefully maintained processes and the core principle of the neutral point of view mostly serve contributors well.

With Wikimedia Deutschland‘s recent announcement of Wikidata, many of the early concerns about Wikipedia itself have resurfaced once again. Read more

Two Perspectives on Wikidata

Mark Graham recently raised some concerns regarding the Wikidata project in The Atlantic. Graham writes, “Wikidata will create a collaborative database that is both machine readable and human editable and which will underpin a lot of knowledge that is presented in all 284 language versions of Wikipedia. In other words, the encyclopaedia plans to become part of the movement from a mostly human-readable Web to a Web in which computers and software can better make sense of information… The reason that Wikidata marks such a significant moment in Wikipedia’s history is the fact that it eliminates some of the scope for culturally contingent representations of places, processes, people, and events. However, even more concerning is that fact that this sort of congealed and structured knowledge is unlikely to reflect the opinions and beliefs of traditionally marginalized groups.”

Graham Continues, “It is important that different communities are able to create and reproduce different truths and worldviews. And while certain truths are universal (Tokyo is described as a capital city in every language version that includes an article about Japan), others are more messy and unclear (e.g. should the population of Israel include occupied and contested territories?).”

Read the full article here.

Denny Vrandečić, project director of Wikidata, posted a thoughtful response to Graham’s article. I have re-posted Vrandečić’s response in its entirety:


Thank you for your well-thought criticism. When we were thinking first of adding structured data to Wikipedia, we were indeed thinking of giving every language edition its own data space. This way the Arab and the Hebrew Wikipedia community would not interfere with each other, nor would the Estonian and the Russian communities interfere with each other. Read more

The Semantic Link with Guest, Denny Vrandecic – February, 2012

Paul Miller, Bernadette Hyland, Ivan Herman, Eric Hoffer, Andraz Tori, Peter Brown, Christine Connors, Eric Franzon

On Friday, February 10, a group of Semantic thought leaders from around the globe met with their host and colleague, Paul Miller, for the latest installment of the Semantic Link, a monthly podcast covering the world of Semantic Technologies. This episode includes a discussion about data; specifically, the recently announced “wikidata” project with special guest, Denny Vrandecic.
At the recent SemTechBiz Berlin conference, Denny presented a talk titled, “Wikidata: The Next Big Thing for Wikipedia.” As evidenced in the “Wow’s” expressed by the panelists in this month’s podcast call, this is indeed a big deal for Wikipedia and for Semantic Web. Read more

#SemTechBiz Berlin – Day 2

After a great day yesterday I was eager to to discover what today’s program had to offer.  Unfortunately I had to set off for the airport, where I am now writing this, before the end.  However I caught most of the day and here are my few thoughts and recollections.

P1000760Today’s Keynote was in the form of a panel discussing Semantics in the Automotive Industry with Martin [GoodRelations] Hepp, John Kendall Streit of Tribal DDB, William Greenly of AQKA, and François-Paul Servant from Renault.  They discussed their experiences in pioneering the use of Linked Data / Semantic Web technologies and approaches in the automotive domain.
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The SemanticLink Podcast – Submit Your Questions

The Semantic LinkAfter December’s episode of the Semantic Link, we asked for your thoughts on both the topics we should cover, and the ways in which you would like to interact with the podcast. You spoke, very clearly asking for an opportunity to pose questions for the team to answer during recordings. This is that opportunity.

February’s episode of the show will be recorded this Friday, 10 February, and we’re joined by a guest with a lot to contribute during our conversation.

There is growing interest in publishing, sharing and using data on the Web. The Semantic Web’s Linked Data effort is clearly one approach to this, but there are others. At Wolfram Alpha, for example, founder Stephen Wolfram suggests that a new Top Level Domain (TLD) for data will make data easier to find on the web. And inside the Wikimedia Foundation (the home of Wikipedia), a new WikiData project is rapidly taking shape.

Photo of Denny VrandecicWikiData project director, Denny Vrandecic, joins us to share his perspectives on these and other approaches to the space.

And now over to all of you. Please use the comments facility below, to share your perspectives on the question, or to submit your comments and questions for Denny and the regular gang to consider. Then tune in the week of 13 February to hear the result!

Breaking News: Wikipedia’s Next Big Thing at SemTechBiz Berlin

A late addition has been made to the agenda for the Semantic Technology and Business Conference (#SemTechBiz) in Berlin, Germany. The conference, which takes place February 6-7 in Berlin, Germany, will now feature a session entitled Wikipedia’s Next Big Thing: The Wikidata Project. Space is still available to see this and many other highly anticipated sessions, panels, and demonstrations at SemTechBiz Berlin.

Featured Session

Photo of Denny VrandecicWikipedia’s Next Big Thing: The Wikidata Project with Denny Vrandecic, Project Director - Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.

Wikidata is a new Wikimedia project, supporting the goal of the Wikimedia Foundation to develop and maintain open content, wiki-based projects over the sum of human knowledge, and provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge. Wikidata will provide an infrastructure and stable URLs to store and access data for use in Wikipedia articles, as well as for any other use. It will be similar to the way that Wikimedia Commons stores and provides public access to multimedia files today. Wikidata will be based on technologies pioneered in Semantic MediaWiki, and will be a powerful force for bringing structured data into Wikipedia, and making it available to everyone, for free.

About #SemTechBiz Berlin

SemTechBiz Berlin will be held February 6-7, 2012 at the Seminaris Campus Hotel. Packed with case studies and real-world perspectives, SemTechBiz Berlin offers two comprehensive days of fresh insight and immersive learning from global experts in technology, financial services, insurance, healthcare, publishing, government, automotive and enterprise data.

The highly anticipated conference will feature an array of speakers at the forefront of semantic web technologies in business applications. These speakers will discuss how semantic technologies are being used in organizations today to make money, save money, leverage existing resources, and solve problems in innovative ways.

Register Now

Space is still available for SemTechBiz Berlin. Register here today to secure your spot. A variety of registration options are available to suit different budgets and discounts are available for groups of three or more as well as students/academics. Read more

Ontoprise releases Semantic MediaWiki+ 1.4.4

SMW+ makes it easy for your team to cope with knowledge-intensive processes and to exploit the implicit knowledge locked in unstructured wiki contents.

Karlsruhe, Germany – June 15, 2009 – ontoprise GmbH, the leading provider of industry-proven Semantic Web infrastructure technologies, has released Semantic MediaWiki+ 1.4.4. SMW+ is an open-source semantic wiki, aimed at usage in commercial and corporate environments, allowing you better manage and retrieve wiki contents, compared to conventional enterprise wikis. It provides intuitive means for end-users to collaboratively create, organize and retrieve knowledge in your wiki. By knowledge we mean semantically enriched wiki contents, which can be processed and interpreted by the wiki system and other ontology infrastructures. As a consequence, users are not restricted to simple key word search for knowledge retrieval, but they are able to query and evaluate the wiki’s knowledge base, giving them precisely the information they need. The contained semantics make the wiki context-aware: Thus, a query e.g. for wiki pages tagged with “event”, also yields pages only tagged with “conference”, because the wiki understands that every conference is an event.

The overall functions, enabling the creation, organization and retrieval of semantic data in SMW+, comprise amongst others:

  • Toolbars for tagging wiki contents semantically, supporting users e.g. via auto-completion and highlighting
  • An ontology browser, allowing you to grasp the semantic data immediately
  • A graphical query interface, for easily composing queries to the knowledge base with a few mouse-clicks

These tools provide the basis that your wiki does not become another dump of scattered, unorganized information pieces, but a real knowledge base.

Upon these basic functions, SMW+ provides further features and amenities:

  • A WYSIWYG editor for conveniently creating rich texts with embedded media files and semantic queries
  • Awareness functions, allowing you not only to track changes on wiki pages, but in the semantic data
  • A state-of-the-art search engine, providing search results from full texts (wiki pages and uploaded documents) and the knowledge base on a unified interface
  • Permission controls, enabling the protection of wiki contents for users and user groups on different layers (e.g. based on namespaces or single pages)
  • Data import component, allowing to integrate data from external systems (e.g. legacy enterprise systems), web services and ‘linked data’ sources on the web
  • Semantic-aware forms, for entering recurring structured data, getting annotated semantically on-the-fly
  • Various result printers, for enhancing query results visually and creating appealing dash-boards (e.g. pie- and bar-charts, google-maps, event-lines)
  • Connectors for triple stores, enabling to query wiki data via SPARQL (from remote) and providing advanced reasoning support (e.g. exploiting user-defined rules)
  • A Gardening framework, for maintaining the wiki’s knowledge base via automatic helper tools
  • Prime content with a pre-defined ontology, templates and forms providing a base start for teamwork purposes
  • Excel Bridge, for querying SMW+ from within Excel and smooth import of the query results into MS Excel spreadsheets

Discover SMW+, allowing you to blend unstructured content with semantically tagged data, providing a platform for teams covering the whole lifecycle for knowledge management or project management. From the initial start and planning phases with informal workflows, vocabulary building and collection of information, to its termination focussing on post-evaluation and knowledge re-use.

SMW+ can be obtained as pre-packaged, ready-to-use bundle (199 Euro), shipped as Windows installer and as free packages (without prime content) from Ontoprise offers commercial support and training. You can also charge us for content and interface customizations and knowledge base building.

SMW+ includes Semantic MediaWiki (developed by Markus Krötzsch and Denny Vrandecic at the University of Karlsruhe) and the halo-Extension which is developed by Ontoprise in the HALO project, a Paul G. Allen initiative which is sponsored by his Seattle-based Vulcan Inc.

For further product information, a demo wiki and comprehensive manuals and tutorials please visit 

Your contact

ontoprise GmbH

Philipp Zaltenbach

An der RaumFabrik 29
76227 Karlsruhe

Tel.:            +49 721 509809-0
Fax:            +49 721 509809-11

In case of publication please send us a copy. Thank you!


About Vulcan Inc.

Vulcan Inc. creates and advances a variety of world-class endeavors and high-impact initiatives that change and improve the way people live, learn, do business and experience the world. Founded in 1986 by investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, and under the direction of president and CEO Jody Patton, Vulcan oversees various business and charitable projects including real estate holdings, investments in more than 40 companies, including Charter Communications, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Digeo Broadband, the Seattle Seahawks NFL and Portland Trail Blazers NBA franchises, First & Goal Inc., Vulcan Productions, the Seattle Cinerama theatre, Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame, the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. For more information about Vulcan, please visit


About ontoprise GmbH

Ontoprise is the leading independent software vendor for industry-proven Semantic Web infrastructure technologies and products used to support dynamic semantic information integration and information management processes at the enterprise level. With its mature and standards-based products and its know-how ontoprise is delivering a key portion for the upcoming Semantic Web. Ontoprise has developed a comprehensive product suite designed to support the deployment of semantic technologies in the enterprise. Further information can be found on the Internet at