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Old 09-23-2008, 03:21 PM
Steve
 
Default A question about Wikis... (A bit off topic...)

I'm trying to establish a shared repository for semi-structured data...
This could be interpreted in many ways, so I'll try to illustrate with
an example.


Say I'm researching a new topic - for example, the Oil Industry... and
I'm looking to establish a shared resource detailing relevant
information. From the outset, I recognise that a completely free-form
approach isn't appropriate... there are a number of 'key entities' - for
example, Oil Companies; Oil Executives; Oil Fields; Oil Consultancies -
etc. Hence, I know that I will be interested to develop a coherent
profile of all the Oil Companies in a similar format. If I were to
establish the market capitalisation for one oil company, I'd want to
make it clear that this information is 'unknown' for other companies
rather than simply not mention it. Similarly, for CEO; tax status -
etc. When it comes to the directors, perhaps I want to establish "who's
who" style information on them... where I'd collect their educational
backgrounds; URLs for appearances in the press etc.


I imagine that software that supports the development of such flexibly
structured information would be of great value to a wide range of
applications. For example, it would be a fantastic resource for
journalists; with other data, it might serve as a great way for business
oriented research; it could be used to support networking (in a
business/social sense) - and a whole lot of applications I can't imagine
myself, I'm sure.


Is there any existing software that does this sort of thing? A wiki
goes part-way, but I'd want to be able to establish 'type' for pages...
so that, for example, every record of a company has standard fields into
which various statistics can be filled-in... and where URLs to external
data is prompted...


Any ideas?
 
Old 09-23-2008, 05:03 PM
Stroller
 
Default A question about Wikis... (A bit off topic...)

On 23 Sep 2008, at 16:21, Steve wrote:

... there are a number of 'key entities' - for example, Oil
Companies; Oil Executives; Oil Fields; Oil Consultancies - etc.
Hence, I know that I will be interested to develop a coherent
profile of all the Oil Companies in a similar format. If I were to
establish the market capitalisation for one oil company, I'd want to
make it clear that this information is 'unknown' for other companies
rather than simply not mention it. Similarly, for CEO; tax status -
etc. When it comes to the directors, perhaps I want to establish
"who's who" style information on them... where I'd collect their
educational backgrounds; URLs for appearances in the press etc.

...
Is there any existing software that does this sort of thing? A wiki
goes part-way, but I'd want to be able to establish 'type' for
pages... so that, for example, every record of a company has
standard fields into which various statistics can be filled-in...
and where URLs to external data is prompted...


To some extent a wiki can do a fair bit of what you ask.

On Wikipedia, for instance, books may use the "Book" Infobox construct
to state author, title, ISBN number, publisher & so on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Traveller%27s_Wife
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Infobox_Book

You can also categorise pages - someone simply added
"[[Categoryistributions]]" at the foot of http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/FreeBSD
and now it appears on the http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Categoryistributions
page.


The problem is that a wiki isn't a database, so I guess it depends how
flexible you want your data to be. I wouldn't be surprised if there
are database packages out there which allow you to store multiple
different types of information (company-type alongside CEO-type
alongside old-field-type), perhaps even link them and also add
flexible notes fields. I think I've read articles in the past about
such "flexible databases" - I think the author of Lotus Notes (or was
it 123?) has worked on one or proposed one or something. On the other
hand they may not handle versioning as well as a wiki, or have other
shortcomings. You may find that a wiki, alongside a good web-search
engine installed on the same server, does what you need.


Stroller.
 

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