Submissions:2018/Does Wikidata Need an Ontological Overhaul?

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This submission is waitlisted for WikiConference North America 2018. It was not scheduled in the first round of scheduling, but may still be scheduled after further review, as slots open up, or as a pre-conference session.

Does Wikidata Need an Ontological Overhaul? Alternate: A Human Life Cycle Ontology for Wikidata
Theme (optional)
Tech & Tools
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Sam Smith
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Affiliation(s) (optional)
DataSmith, LLC
(9/7/18 revised Summary) Wikidata has many properties that describe a human and what a human does during his or her lifetime. However, these properties, terms and their meanings, do not form a consistent framework for assessing life histories. This presentation describes an ontology of the human life cycle for Wikidata and other uses. It builds on an earlier ontology of occupations that is consistent with a widely used ontological framework, Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), used by many biomedical applied ontologies, and which was presented by colleague Dr. Yongqun He of the University of Michigan at a medical bioinformatics conference in Shanghai.

The central role of life cycle was highlighted by Princeton biologist John Tyler Bonner in his book Life Cycles. He observes that a dog is not what you see at the moment it barks. As a fertilized cell, it would still be a dog but unrecognizable. He asserts that a "dog" is really a life cycle. If so, a human is also a life cycle, but our language does not facilitate thinking in this manner. A first draft human life cycle ontology will be described, open to feedback and revision. It will incorporate a division of life stages developed by Dr. Thomas Armstrong, the above mentioned occupation ontology, the concepts of Prof. Bonner, and the use of existing and proposed Wikidata properties. (Earlier Summary) This presentation asserts that Wikidata can benefit from the use of an enhanced overall ontology. The informal ontology now employed is inconsistent. The presentation follows up on a presentation given at the North American pre-conference at Wikimania 2017 in Montreal (“A Macro-Micro Biological Tour of Wikidata” that compared Wikidata ontological terms for microbiological organisms and humans), and incorporates a presentation given to biomedical ontology experts last spring in Shanghai, in which an ontology for occupations was proposed for use in wikis that is consistent with current biomedical ontologies. In this presentation, the occupation ontology developed will be used to contrast the way historical persons are characterized in Wikidata as to occupation using current terminology, versus using the proposed, consistent, occupation ontology.

Length of presentation
20 minutes
Special requests
Update, SammyWiki 9/7 - A more focused and hopefully interesting ontological topic is proposed, if a presenation on Wikidata is of interest. May I request a spot any time Saturday October 20 (will be doing Detroit Half-Marathon on Sunday the 21st)
Preferred room size
Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?
The same theme of Wikidata ontology but different content and subject matter: Wikimania 2017; a non-Wiki medical bioinformatics conference in Shanghai, Biocuration 2018 by my colleague Dr. Yongqun He of University of Michigan.
If you will be incorporating a slidedeck during your presentation, do you agree to upload it to Commons before your session, with a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, including suitable attribution in the slidedeck for any images used?
Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?
Tentatively, yes.

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  1. Gamaliel (talk) 18:55, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Minh Nguyễn 💬 06:33, 23 August 2018 (UTC)
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