Monday, July 30, 2007


The UMLS or Unified Medical Language System is a collection of many resources it contains tools, a semantic network and a specialist lexicon. It is also a collection of many resources. These resources all have their own license and copyright. Effectively much of the UMLS can be used for many purposes because the particular license allows it. In the same way, there is much of the UMLS that can only be used when the copyright holder gives permission.

In OmegaWiki, we have our first Authoritative Database online. It is the UMLS and we are proud of it. Now as the UMLS is this collection of connected resources, we present it in the same way. There is one UMLS as an Authoritative Database and it has collections that are the parts that make up the UMLS as we have it. The important thing of the UMLS is that it did make the connection between the different databases and we do use their system to connect.

What makes the inclusion of the UMLS so special is that we have the cooperation of the NLM. It is what makes this such an exciting experiment.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

IL7R-alpha and IL2R-alpha anyone ?

The OmegaWiki database is blocked for editing at the moment. The reason given is: "Importing new data". For me this is great news. It means that we are importing the data that we have been preparing for a long time. It means that we are closer to getting the first Wiki for Professionals life.

Today, on the BBC-news website there is an article where IL7R-alpha and IL2R-alpha play a major role. They are proteins, more specific they are genetic variants of proteins that play a role in the expression of multiple sclerosis.

OmegaWiki will contain terminology like IK7R-alpha, it is specialised terminology but as it can be found in sources like the BBC website, it is good to have it. Wikiproteins will be the first Wiki for Professionals and, it will allow for the further annotation of these proteins by people who know about these substances.

It is really thrilling to see all the development needed to come to a first public outing come to a close. I congratulate the members of the consortium that make Wikiproteins possible. I believe that this has the potential to become an important tool for scientists. Wikiproteins is possible because of the many people who believe that Open Access is essential to science.

By going life, we invite comments. These will help us to make sure that the functionality is just right. The best people that can help us identify what more needs to be done are the people who will become part of what will be the Wikiproteins community.

The "official" announcement of Wikiproteins going life is scheduled at Wikimania 2007 :)


Saturday, July 28, 2007

DMM - Swahili content for OmegaWiki

Yesterday, I reintroduced the notion of "Donations, putting your money where your mouth is" on this blog. Today I want to tell you about one of the first such projects.

The Kamusi project is a really important project to create a dictionary for Swahili. The project was a project of Yale University and Martin Benjamin was its editor. The project is probably one of the most important resources for the Swahili language and it is therefore really sad that the activity of this project came to an end because of a lack of funding.

Martin is preparing a new project for African languages called PALDO or the Pan-African Living Online Dictionary. This project aims to create content in many of the important African languages. Martin has been given permission to use the content of the Kamusi project from Yale. This means that it becomes possible for him to collaborate with other projects as well.

It is with pride and gratitude that I can say that PALDO and OmegaWiki are going to work together. This means that we need to get the content of Kamusi analysed and imported. It also means that we have to analyse and build the functionality so that we can give back to the PALDO project. More information can be found here.

With a 70.000 word Swahili dictionary, we have sufficient data for the first two OLPC dictionaries that will amount to something. They will be Swahili and English.. the English content comes with Kamusi as well :)

So you can help; you can develop, you can edit and you can sponsor this project.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Donations, putting your money where your mouth is

When you want to get things done, you can do it yourself or you can get someone else to do it for you. Within many Open Source or Open Content projects you can donate your programming, your content and your money. When you are a programmer or an editor, you can choose what to develop, what to edit, because you are a volunteer. Nobody can tell you what to do. When you volunteer to give money, there is no such luck. You can give, you may be thanked, and that is it.

Unless of course you are a big time donor. When you give a sufficient amount of money and the purpose for this money fits within the aims of the organisation you give it to, you can determine what the money is spend on. This is not an option for small time donors.

Many small projects have been identified that need doing, projects that do not get done because they do not have priority or because nobody volunteers to do them. For such projects a specification can be made and a cost estimate can be given. These can be published and donations for these projects can be solicited. When enough people have contributed funding for a project, it can be executed.

For the complete policy read; Donations, putting your money where your mouth is.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

What language is this text ?

When you write a text, you know your audience and you select a language accordingly. Given that English is the lingua franca of this day and age, and given that my public is international I do write in English. However, there is nothing that stops me or any of the other people who contribute to this blog from writing in a different language.

This is a bad thing. It would be so much better when I was able to actively indicate the language that I am writing. Obviously, Blogger can have its own routines to distinguish certain languages, but I am absolutely certain that they will not recognise the majority of languages.

While I am typing this blog, I have indicated to my spell checker that I am using UK English spelling. This means that many of the mistakes I make will not be seen by you. Having indicated that the languages IS UK English, it would have been great when it was picked up by the Blogger software.

Consider, when I inform Blogger that I am writing UK English, my Firefox spelling extension does not need to guess anymore. It would provide me with a much better functionality and it would make functionality possible in languages that are not well supported..

So please, please allow me to tag the language of my texts.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A new menu

In preparation for the presentations at Wikimania, we are making OmegaWiki extra nice. I am finishing the new main page where you will find information about the things we have been preparing that are not there yet.

There have been things in our wiki that do not have any functionality yet. A lot of work has been done in the last weeks in refactoring our code. We are making changes to the code in order to make it easier for new developers to get to grips with the code. These changes will make it possible to build some of the more complex functionality that we need.

While we are working hard at OmegaWiki, Knewco is working hard preparing their Desktop, with its Knowlet and Semantic Support. It is really cool that OmegaWiki will not only be useful in its own right, but that applications are going to be build on top of it.

I am really excited about going to Taipei. I will be happy to talk and demonstrate what we are on about.. It is less than a week I am thrilled to see all the everything coming together :)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ch'orti', a language spoken in Guatemala and Honduras

Ch'orti' as a language has caa as its ISO 639-3 code, some 30.000 people speak the language and according to Reeck many more belong to the associated ethnic population.

I have been adding languages to the ISO 639-3 collection for some time now, I started with Ghotuo (aaa) and I have now progressed to Ch'orti' (caa). Many have few speakers, many are extinct, several are sign languages and almost all of them I have already forgotten.

So why do this, is there method to this madness.. OmegaWiki aims to include all words of all languages, but what languages are there ? Do we want to discuss the notion of yet another linguistic entity that we should support. Does something like Brithenig (bzt) deserve its place under the sun ?

I do not mind the discussion, but I do mind what the result will be of such a discussion. It needs to come to a conclusion and I do not want to be in the position that people look to me for a verdict. It is not a good idea either to have the OmegaWiki commission be in that position. It is for all these reasons that we decided on adopting standards and started with the creation of portals for the ISO 639-3 languages. We are now at the next phase, creating the DefinedMeanings for these languages and make them part of the ISO 639-3 collection.

This is only what is recognised by one standard, there are other standards that help indicate what the precise linguistic entity is that is to be documented in OmegaWiki. First we should finish this, there are currently 1365 entries in the ISO 639-3 collection .. there are many more thousands to go :)


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Aklanon ...

Aklanon is a language spoken in the Philipines. The ISO-639-3 code is "akl" and according to a 1990 census some 394.545 people speak this language.

On OmegaWiki, Aklanon has its own portal and I was really thilled when Chief Mike indicated his interest in working on the Aklanon content. We do want Aklanon but we also have our own standards. One of these standards is that the Babel templates for a language are in that language. I really appreciate the notion that the Babel templates have to be understood however, the Babel templates are one of the first things that we hope to get in any language.

When we have the Aklanon Babel templates in Aklanon, it will be a privilege to have Aklanon as the next language that we support in OmegaWiki.