W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org > February 2006

RE: Nature: A call for a public gene Wiki

From: <matt@biomedcentral.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2006 15:56:11 -0000
Message-ID: <CA28D1CFC7C162478793AEBAFF1D53780452D7D5@ms1.lsc.net>
To: <Phillip.Lord@newcastle.ac.uk>, <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>

> > It's at least conceivable that Wikipedia may play an important role
> > in providing widely accepted identifiers for such high 
> level  classes
> > and instances, since the high level of usage of wikipedia would tend
> > to keep those high level concepts  far better maintained and curated
> > than they would be in the backwaters of a specifically biomedical
> > ontology.
> > 
> The problem with wikipedia in this context is that it does not 
> have any specific policy on data preservation. Links can break, or
> refer to other things than they started out. 
> The general wiki community notion is a good thing, in general, 
> but there are limitations. Wikipedia has succeeded well in getting
> to the size that it has, been it has it's limitiations. The here
> today, gone tomorrow, nature of the web is certainly one of them.
> Phil

In terms of preserving the bits:

Digital preservation with Wikipedia is facilitated in the  same way that digital preservation of research articles is facilitated by BioMed Central's open access policy. By having an open rights policy, it is straightforward for any organization to apply whatever it deems to be the necessary digital preservation (and versioning) to the content. You're not dependent on agreeing or disagreeing with wikimedia about what the right way to preserve the material for the long term is - whatever you define as desirable, is possile in parallel.

Just as, if you believe that the only way to preserve BioMed Central's content is to scratch it in a shrinking spiral onto 2" nickel disks (as recommended here http://www.longnow.org/projects/conferences/10klibrary/ ), then thanks to the Creative Commons license nothing stops you from doing so. Same for Wikipedia.

In terms of preserving the links:

> Links can break, or refer to other things than they started out. 

Yes indeed - that is surely in the very nature of an evolving ontology. But a core aspect of any semantically enhanced version of wikipedia (or other semantic wiki project) would certainly be how to manage the various different possible forms of aliasing which would be part of managing this evolution. e.g. right now, within Wikipedia, the primary form of aliasing is that where there were, say, 3 previous entries that have converted into a single entry, there is a redirection/rewrite in place
actually takes you to

This aliasing mechanism would need to get subtler and more structured to convey the relevant history of the concepts concerned.

An of course, at any point in time, any organisation may choose to snapshot wikipedia and comb through the relevant to create a trustworthy version, backed by their imprimatur.

The relationship between this and the 'active' wiki would be like the relationship between an official "release" of Firefox (from Mozilla.org or from another unofficial provider, as compared to the nightly builds. The availability of the nightly builds has huge value, but if you want to be cautious you can be too.

This email has been scanned by Postini.
For more information please visit http://www.postini.com

Received on Thursday, 9 February 2006 15:56:29 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 7 January 2015 14:52:25 UTC