Artificial Intelligence

Yolanda Gil gives the keynote at the Semantic Wiki Conference

Yolanda Gil was invited to give the keynote presentation at the Fall 2013 Semantic MediaWiki Conference. Her talk discussed the opportunities for using Semantic Wikis to help scientists collaborate.

Semantic wikis are widely used by communities that want to create wiki sites with additional structure. "In Wikipedia, the link between a person's page and a city's page has no meaning, so it could be their birth place or the place where they live. In a semantic wiki, that information can be easily specified by defining two separate properties" she says.

Gil's keynote talk described Organic Data Science, a new paradigm to support data sharing and data analysis as collaborative activities that are an integral part of scientific research. In Organic Data Science, researchers use the semantic wiki to pose questions, discuss possible data needs, contribute ther expertise to do data analysis, and synthesize results. The approach is consistent with recent trends to make scientific software and data more open and broadly accessible across disciplines, as well as open to volunteer contributors and to citizen scientists. A key aspect of the work is the credit to contributors through provenance and the development of proactive mechanisms to encourage structure and convergence. The work is done in collaboration with hydrologists and ecologists from several institutions and funded by several divisions at the National Science Foundation.

Gil has studied semantic wiki communities as a paradigm for social knowledge collection. In a recent paper, she and her collaborators analyzed more than 200 semantic wikis set up by diverse communities to share information as diverse as hobbies, wildlife, and programming modules. These communities are not expert in knowledge representation or semantic web, so it is a clear example of the use of these artificial intelligence techniques "in the wild".

Perhaps the best known semantic wiki is WikiData, a project at the Wikimedia Foundation aimed at structuring information in Wikipedia. WikiData was started by former ISDer Denny Vrandecic and conceived while developing the Shortipedia project at ISI. WikiData turned one year old exactly on the day of the conference opening, where it was reported that more than 4,000 editors have created 21M structured statements.

A video of the talk is available from the conference web site.