Most of the time when you arrive at one of the millions of pages of a Wikipedia in many different languages, you will see an info box on the right-hand side. These boxes contain structured data, collected by millions of people over the nearly twenty years that Wikipedias have been operating. Starting in 2012, that data began to shift from being in a structured table to being represented as fully structured data, making descriptive information on millions of objects, locations, people, and abstract concepts able to be queried in a structured form. By thismeans, Wikidata is starting to realise the promise of the Semantic Web, enabling answers to queries such as “give me the names and birth dates of all Nobel Prize winners born in Africa”. It is integrating data from many different domains and sources within a common framework, supported largely by volunteers, that allows us not just to read the world’s knowledge, but also to ask questions of it.
Wikidata stands out for its scale and its quiet development of a set of massive data resources. Specifically, when we think about publishing, Wikidata allows us to connect the millions of research outputs and concepts, organisations and individuals and to understand how they relate to each other. Openness and open content are central to Wikidata which is fundamentally built on open data and demonstrates the necessity of clear permissions for building integrated systems at scale.
The judges were impressed by the scale and the central commitment to openness that Wikidata and the broader Wikimedia community exemplifies and the power to enable a wide range of communities through open structured data. The impact of Wikidata is developing but it already underpins a range of tools and systems such as Scholia, and has also enabled the scaling of other massive datasets. The potential is significant.