Testing out Semantic MediaWiki, I’m reminded of the Borges story of the king who orders a cartographer to make the most precise map of his kingdom possible. The cartographer makes a map that is the same size and scale as the kingdom, carpeting the country with an exact copy. With Semantic MediaWiki, it’s easy to get carried away with making a sprawling replica of the real world.
How to use Semantic MediaWiki
Part of the reason for this is that using Semantic MediaWiki is fairly easy. If you have experience with HTML or the MediaWiki syntax, it’s even easier, but even beginners could begin building articles with SMW after a few minutes of explanation. The format of [[property name::property value]] is easy to get used to, and only a few more variations in syntax would be necessary for a first-time user.
For instance, here is the code for a small page about Chicago.
Chicago is an [[Country::America|American]] city in the [[Region::Midwest]]. Its residents include [[resident::Simon Swartzman]], [[resident::Daniel Swartzman]], [[resident::Arlene Swartzman]], [[resident::Sasha Swartzman]], and [[resident::Sam Swartzman]]. It is in [[state::Illinois]].
And the text it produces:
Chicago is an American city in the Midwest. Its residents include Simon Swartzman, Daniel Swartzman, Arlene Swartzman, Sasha Swartzman, and Sam Swartzman. It is in Illinois.
What’s so special about Semantic MediaWiki is not so much that I can create pages like this, with links that are more descriptive than links in Wikipedia. The most robust feature of Semantic MediaWiki is what I can do with these linked properties. For instance, I can create a dynamically queried table based upon these properties. The benefit of these tables being created on the fly is that information doesn’t have to be repeated across a wiki in multiple places. Read more [[Semantic Web in::the University]]