WikidataCon 2019 Berlin

Posted on 2019-11-06 by Karsten Hoffmeyer

Two weeks ago I attended WikidataCon 2019 in Berlin which was again a successful and informative event apparently not just from my perspective. The conference was well organised by Wikimedia Deutschland. It offered an ideal number of program items in between longer breaks that also allowed for community building, refreshing existing contacts and discussing all things open data beyond the conference program as such.

I was there in my role as a regular attendee dealing with structured data on and off Wikidata, the Semantic MediaWiki software and Wikibase as the extension framework making Wikidata happen. Data federation and itegration was hot topic at the WikidataCon and was covered by quite some sessions, such as e.g. the "GLAM panel", the "Data federation and integration meetup", "Inventaire : What we learnt from reusing and extending Wikidata shifting data ", etc. of which I attended the latter two.

From the conference contributions I attended I would like to point out one as being utterly noteworthy though covering a seemingly obvious as well as basic topic at first glance: Classification systems and their influence on how we collect, structure and perceive data. And yes, there are quite some cases there a classification system can be damaging and distorting for the consumer of data. Os Keyes, a researcher and writer at the University of Washington, was covering this subject in his keynote "Questioning Wikidata" which exemplified this with marginalised populations. At one point while listening to the keynote the idea of collecting "alternative facts" to overcome such issues came to my mind, however I immediately dismissed this idea for obvious reasons.

I suggest interested people to use the conference program as a starting point to browse though all conference contributions which are all well documented with slides, etherpad notes and in a lot of cases even session videos. It is worth it.

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