During my first week at Newspeak house while explaining Wikidata and Wikibase to some folks on the terrace the topic of Dams came up while discussing an old project that someone had worked on. Back in the day collecting information about Dams would have been quite an effort, compiling a bunch of different data from different sources to try to get a complete worldwide view on the topic. Perhaps it is easier with Wikidata now?
Below is a very brief walkthrough of topic discovery and exploration using various Wikidata features and the SPARQL query service.
A typical known Dam
In order to get an idea of the data space for the topic within Wikidata I start with a Dam that I know about already, the Three Gorges Dam (Q12514). Using this example I can see how Dams are typically described.
I have long known about OpenRefine (previously Google Refine) which is a tool for working with data, manipulating and cleaning it. As of version 3.0 (May 2018), OpenRefine included a Wikidata extension, allowing for extra reconciliation and also editing of Wikidata directly (as far as I understand it). You can find some documentation on this topic on Wikidata itself.
This post serves as a summary of my initial experiences with OpenRefine, including some very basic reconciliation from a Wikidata Query Service SPARQL query, and making edits on Wikidata.
In order to follow along you should already know a little about what Wikidata is.
I tried out OpenRefine in two different setups both of which were easy to set up following the installation docs. The setups were on my actual machine and in a VM. For the VM I also had to use the -i option to make the service listen on a different IP. refine -i 172.23.111.140
Wikidata provides free and open access to entities representing real world concepts. Of course Wikidata is not meant to contain every kind of data, for example beer reviews or product reviews would probably never make it into Wikidata items. However creating an app that is powered by Wikidata & Wikibase to contain beer reviews should be rather easy.