Wikimedia’s Online Database of Everything

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As the use of online databases continues to be regarded as a smarter way to structure information, it seemed to be only a matter of time before Wikipedia – the community-based repository of some of human history’s most pertinent data – got in on the act. They recently announced the debut of Wikidata, a knowledge information base that can be edited by anyone.

Wikidata is Wikimedia’s first big project in seven years, wrote GigaOM’s David Meyer, and has been in development for some time. The advantages of utilizing an online database to let users update entries to reflect new developments jell with Wikimedia’s mission to make information accessible, comprehensive and up-to-date. Changes made to entries in the online database can be immediately reflected in all of the articles that contain the entry, wrote Meyer.

The design of Wikidata’s information architecture, developed as custom applications that reflect the diversity of its users, will be key to its success, wrote The Guardian’s Mona Chalabi. She singled out Wikidata’s focus on “structured data” as a method that benefits user access and database management of such a massive amount of information.

“Structured data means that information can be automatically updated across a range of different languages – that makes editing articles on Wikipedia less time consuming, and it makes Wikipedia more current,” wrote Chalabi.

Wikidata’s currency as an online database will be directly related to its fluidity and user-friendliness. Although it is still a work in progress, wrote Chalabi, its inclusive structured data policies indicate steps in the right direction.