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Keynote at SMWCon Fall 2020


I have the honor of being the invited keynote for the SMWCon Fall 2020. I am going to talk "From Semantic MediaWiki to Abstract Wikipedia", discussing fifteen years of Semantic MediaWiki, how it all started, where we are now - crossing Freebase, DBpedia, Wikidata - and now leading to Wikifunctions and Abstract Wikipedia. But, more importantly, how Semantic MediaWiki, over all these years, still holds up and what its unique value is.

Page about the talk on the official conference site: https://www.semantic-mediawiki.org/wiki/SMWCon_Fall_2020/Keynote:_From_Semantic_Wikipedia_to_Abstract_Wikipedia

Simia

Site went down

The site went down, again. First time was in July, when Apache had issues, this time it's due to MySQL acting up and frying the database. I found a snapshot from July 2019, and am trying to recreate the entries from in between (thanks, Wayback Machine!)

Until then, at least the site is back up, even though they might be some losses in the content.

P.S.: it should all be back up. If something is missing, please email me.

Simia

Wikidata crossed Q100000000

Wikidata crossed Q100000000 (and, in fact, skipped it and got Q100000001 instead).

Here's a small post by Lydia Pintscher and me: https://diff.wikimedia.org/2020/10/06/wikidata-reaches-q100000000/

Wikidata
Simia

Mulan

I was surprised when Disney made the decision to sell Mulan on Disney+. So if you wanted to watch Mulan, you not only have to buy it, so far so good, but you have to join their subscription service first. The price for Mulan is $30 in the US, additionally to the monthly fee of streaming, $7. So the $30 don't buy you Mulan, but allow you to watch it if you keep up your subscription.

Additionally, on December 4 the movie becomes free for everyone with a Disney+ subscription.

I thought, that's a weird pricing model. Who'd pay that much money for streaming the movie a few weeks earlier? I know, it will be very long weeks due to the world being so 2020, but still. Money is tight for many people. Also, the movie had very mixed reviews and a number of controversies attached to it.

According to the linked report, Disney really knows what they're doing. 30% of subscribers bought the early streaming privilege! Disney made hundreds of millions in extra profit within three first few days (money they really will be thankful for right now given their business with the cruise ships and theme parks and movies this year).

The most interesting part is how this will affect the movie industry. Compare to Tenet - which was reviewed much better and which was the hope to revive the moribund US cinema industry, but made less than $30M - which also needs to be shared with the theaters and had much more distribution costs. Disney keeps a much larger share of the $30 for Mulan than Tenet makes for its production company.

The lesson from Mulan and Trolls 2, which also did much better than I would ever have predicted, for the production companies experimenting with novel pricing models, could be disastrous for theaters.

I think we're going to see even more experimentation with pricing models. If the new Bond movie and/or the new Marvel movie should be pulled from cinemas, this might also be the end of cinemas as we know them.

I don't know how the industry will change, but the swing is from AMC to Netflix, with the producers being caught in between. The pandemic massively accelerated this transition, as it did so many others.

https://finance.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/nearly-onethird-of-us-households-purchased-mulan-on-disney-for-30-fee-data-221410961.html

Simia

Gödel's naturalization interview

When Gödel went to his naturalization interview, his good friend Einstein accompanied him as a witness. On the way, Gödel told Einstein about a gap in the US constitution that would allow the country to be turned into a dictatorship. Einstein told him to not mention it during the interview.

The judge they came to was the same judge who already naturalized Einstein. The interview went well until the judge asked whether Gödel thinks that the US could face the same fate and slip into a dictatorship, as Germany and Austria did. Einstein became alarmed, but Gödel started discussing the issue. The judge noticed, changed the topic quickly, and the process came to the desired outcome.

I wonder what that was, that Gödel found, but that's lost to history.

Simia

Gödel and Leibniz

Gödel in his later age became obsessed with the idea that Leibniz had written a much more detailed version of the Characteristica Universalis, and that this version was intentionally censored and hidden by a conspiracy. Leibniz had discovered what he had hunted for his whole life, a way to calculate truth and end all disagreements.

I'm surprised that it was Gödel in particular to obsess with this idea, because I'd think that someone with Leibniz' smarts would have benefitted tremendously from Gödel's proofs, and it might have been a helpful antidote to his own obsession with making truth a question of mathematics.

And wouldn't it seem likely to Gödel that even if there were such a Characteristics Universalis by Leibniz, that, if no one else before him, he, Gödel himself would have been the one to find the fatal bug in it?

Simia

Starting Abstract Wikipedia

I am very happy about the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation having approved the proposal for the multilingual Wikipedia aka Abstract Wikipedia aka Wikilambda aka we'll need to find a name for it.

In order to make that project a reality, I will as of next week join the Foundation. We will be starting with a small, exploratory team, which will allow us to have plenty of time to continue to socialize and discuss and refine the idea. Being able to work on this full time and with a team should allow us to make significant progress. I am very excited about that.

I am sad to leave Google. It was a great time, and I learned a lot about running *large* projects, and I met so many brilliant people, and I ... seriously, it was a great six and a half years, and I will very much miss it.

There is so much more I want to write but right now I am just super happy and super excited. Thanks everyone!

Abstract Wikipedia
Simia

Lexical masks in JSON

We have released lexical masks as ShEx files before, schemata for lexicographic forms that can be used to validate whether the data is complete.

We saw that it was quite challenging to turn these ShEx files into forms for entering the data, such as Lucas Werkmeister’s Lexeme Forms. So we adapted our approach slightly to publish JSON files that keep the structures in an easier to parse and understand format, and to also provide a script that translates these JSON files into ShEx Entity Schemas.

Furthermore, we published more masks for more languages and parts of speech than before.

Full documentation can be found on wiki: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Lexical_Masks#Paper

Background can be found in the paper: https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/2020.lrec-1.372/

Thanks Bruno, Saran, and Daniel for your great work!

Simia

Major bill for US National Parks passed

Good news: the US Senate has passed a bipartisan large Public Lands Bill, which will provide billions right now and continued sustained funding for National Parks.

There a number of interesting and good parts about this, besides the obvious that National Parks are being funded better and predictably:

  1. the main reason why this passed and was made was that the Evangelical movement in the US is increasingly reckoning that Pro-Life also means Pro-Environment, and this really helped with making this bill a reality. This is major as it could set the US on a path to become a more sane nation regarding environmental policies. If this could also extend to global warming, that would be wonderful, but let's for now be thankful for any momentum in this direction.
  2. the sustained funding comes from oil and gas operations, which has a certain satisfying irony to it. I expect this part to backfire a bit somehow, but I don't know how yet.
  3. Even though this is a political move by Republicans in order to safe two of their Senators this fall, many Democrats supported it because the substance of the bill is good. Let's build on this momentum of bipartisanship.
  4. This has nothing to do with the pandemic, for once, but was in work for a long time. So all of the reasons above are true even without the pandemic.
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Black lives matter

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