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You Can Use Wikidata Facts in Apps – But Perhaps Not Yet

wikidata facts

Wikidata is a free, open source knowledge base.  The intention is for Wikipedia to draw its data from Wikidata, and someday you also may be able to use data from Wikidata in your apps and websites — just not quite yet for most of us.

Wikiconfused yet? Let us explain.

Wikimedia, the parent foundation behind both Wikipedia and Wikidata, has announced that Wikipedia will begin drawing more of its data from Wikidata. Wikidata.org [1] was launched Oct 30, 2012, and is a relative newcomer compared to Wikipedia which has been around since January 2001.

Here’s how Wikimedia Executive Director Sue Gardner explained it last week [2] on the official Wikimedia Blog:

“Before Wikidata, Wikipedians needed to manually update hundreds of Wikipedia language versions every time a famous person died or a country’s leader changed. With Wikidata, such new information, entered once, can automatically appear across all Wikipedia language versions.”

In other words, Wikipedia is the online encyclopedia publication.  But Wikidata is the underlying source of certain data it will pull from.

What this means is that Wikipedia data can be more accurate and easier to update, because information only need be updated in one place — in Wikidata. Then all pages within the Wikipedia resource will be automatically updated because they pull from a central source of data.

What This Means for Entrepreneurs

But here’s where entrepreneurs, app developers and businesses may be interested: Because the data is created under a Creative Commons license, it is available for use for free by anyone.

For example, if you are an app developer, you will be able to retrieve data from the project for apps you create. That data will be updated in one central place by the community, through Wikidata.

Automatically-created charts and lists using information gathered through Wikidata will next be available, Wikimedia announced last week.

The only catch is finding and retrieving Wikidata facts you can use.

In our test of a dozen searches, we were unable to find usable Wikidata data, that we would use — probably because it is still new.  But “your mileage may vary,” as the saying goes.

Another issue, as Gigaom reports [3], the API to tap into the data is still being developed and is not publicly available yet.  That means for the time being, you’d need some other method of retrieving any usable data from Wikidata if you could find it, such as manual entry.

Wikidata Facts Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Our verdict: Sounds like an intriguing and promising idea for the future. However, it’s not quite ready for prime time for most in the small business community.  But you can see the benefits of having a ready source of structured data that could be used.  It may be something to figure into your future plans.