Open Thinkering


Freebase: a useful companion to Wikipedia


Wikipedia is a wonderful resource that has transformed the Internet. It has been proved to be as reliable – if not more so – than the Encylopaedia Britannica, but nevertheless it has problems. There’s no way that a teacher could let a class loose on the site without insisting they check the information with that found elsewhere. But what other such comprehensive resource can teaches point their students towards?

Enter Freebase. Although only in alpha release, it still has several million articles available to view. According to this tutorial (only watch the first half – the second is for developers) the hierarchical nature and different page structures depending on content make it easy to navigate and use. All of the content on Freebase is available under a Creative Commons license, meaning that students just have to cite the work if they use it in a project.

Experts within the community have great control over the structure of Freebase than ordinary users. Although Wikipedia is ostensibly editable by anyone, new users are prevented from editing controversial and politically-sensitive pages. Freebase has the potential to be an extremely useful tool for teachers, especially when used with other sites such as Wikipedia and the revolutionary ManyOne browser and its digital universe. 😀

(via dkuropatwa @ Twitter)

2 thoughts on “Freebase: a useful companion to Wikipedia

  1. Freebase is a pretty exciting app. If it has no information it seems to pull it in from Wikipedia and create a page (or perhaps they pulled in all of wikipedia at the start?)

    Perhaps the real advantage freebase has over wikipedia is the API(the developer bit). This would enable the creation of simpler web-based databases for use in the classroom. There are some examples of very slick app feeding off freebase, eg: FMDb a movie database.

  2. Yes, the API does look to be fairly good – it gives it a semantic structure that could be used to great advantage to educators. I’ve got a login, thanks to Darren Kuropatwa, so I think I’ll have a play about with it! 🙂

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