Pashas into Wikidata

  • Post by Will Hanley
  • Nov 18, 2020

I am experimenting with Wikidata as a research data repository. If I systematically upload various datasets, can I a) make wikidata more global and useful, and b) learn more about my own evidence?

I documented two recent projects, in two different ways. I wrote a step-by-step text description of my work to put Egyptian ministers into Wikidata. In that post, I outline my reasoning in greater detail and offer some useful links about the process.

Here, I want to share screen capture videos of my work to put Egyptian pashas into Wikidata. The videos, in sequence below, are soporifically self-explanatory. I haven’t done documentation like this before, and it was fun. I’m shocked at how much time I can spend talking about this stuff.

1. Wikipedia to OpenRefine

In the first video, I take a list of 353 Egyptian men given the title “pasha” between 1910 and 1952, from this Arabic wikipedia page, and begin to tidy it in OpenRefine.

2. Dates

Here I change the dates of appointment into YYYY-MM-DD format.

3. Given names

Here I add a column containing each pasha’s given name.

4. Wikidata reconciliation

Here I find how many of these fellows are already in Wikidata. For those already present, I will only want to update their records to add the title “pasha” and the date. For those men not yet in Wikidata, I will want to create a whole new item.

5. Adding data from a second source

Here I start to incorporate a different list, which gives the same information in English, from Samir Rafaat’s redoubtable

6. Combining Arabic and English lists

Here I explain how I brought together the Arabic and English lists. I don’t think I did this in a very efficient manner, but so it goes. I considered it worth some effort to add these English transliterations, because they will really enrich the Wikidata items.

7. Wikidata schema

My OpenRefine file is clean, consistent, and complete. In this video I map it to a Wikidata schema, which describes the kind of information that I want to upload. Then I upload the material.

8. Querying Wikidata

Here I will upload a video showing how this pasha data can be used once it’s in Wikidata.

Note: The image of a Shriner’s hat from Tampa, Florida is pilfered without permission from pinterest, but I excused myself because Orientalism.