Semantic Media Wiki

The Revamped CC Case Studies Project

Jane Park, September 10th, 2010

Last year, we kicked off our global case studies effort, inviting you to share your stories—individuals, projects, and companies who use Creative Commons for different reasons and to solve different problems. Through the CC wiki, we attempted to capture the diversity of CC creators and content by building a resource that inspires new works and informs free culture.

Thanks to your contributions, the Case Studies project has grown into an incredibly valuable resource. But like all wikis, the Case Studies wiki is evolving. Everyday, more people and projects are using CC, and existing projects are continuously making themselves over.

To keep up, we’ve made the Case Studies project easier to navigate and ultimately more useful and participatory for the community by revamping the portal and building a new rating system, implementing lessons we’ve learned from other successful wiki communities such as Wikipedia. What’s new:

  • We used Semantic MediaWiki (an extension of MediaWiki) to organize quantifiable elements into a few common properties. Take a look at the case study for Cory Doctorow and you’ll see a new box on the right that provides an at-a-glance view of some of the project’s main properties. These properties are common to all case studies and their values can now be easily browsed.
  • The ability to evaluate each case study by Page Importance and Page Quality. We drafted an Evaluation Guide with some basic criteria for what determines whether a case study is of high, medium, or low importance and quality. These criteria are meant to serve as starting points; we want you to edit and improve them as more case studies are evaluated and added. Each criteria that is not met comes with suggested edits to improve existing case studies.

What you can do now:

The goal of the new features is to encourage better quality and contribution. Please use and help us improve them!

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Contribute to our open database of educational projects

Alex Kozak, March 2nd, 2010

At Creative Commons, we are always looking for new and interesting ways to find out just how much CC licensed content is out there on the web. Our latest project, the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations (or ODEPO), needs your help!

In 2008, ccLearn (now fully integrated into Creative Commons core) conducted a survey of educational projects online for its report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation entitled “What Status for Open? An Examination of the Licensing Policies of Open Educational Organizations and Projects” (pdf). Several months later it was followed up with a data supplement (pdf) that visualized some of the findings.

The report was developed in conjunction with ODEPO, which is a Semantic MediaWiki-based database of organizations involved in providing educational content online. Currently, ODEPO includes 1147 sites affiliated with various organizations, the majority of which were provided to us back in 2008 by educational repositories involved in the creation and expansion of Open Educational Resources (OER).

We’d like to continue supporting this database to help researchers, advocates, and learners find educational projects, analyze trends in online education, and become more effective advocates for open education. We hope that increased awareness of the digital education landscape will increase communication between consumers, producers, and curators of educational content which can lead to more open practices.

How to help: Browse ODEPO. If your favorite educational project or organization is missing, incomplete, or incorrect, please log in to or create a CC wiki account and follow these instructions. Alternatively, you can simply browse to your educational project and click the “Edit this data” button on the page.

Addendum: There is now an Open Tasks tracker for ODEPO where you can find lists of pages that need more data.

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Semantic Media Wiki Quick Reference Guide

Fred Benenson, August 25th, 2008

Creative Commons uses Semantic Media Wiki for both our external wiki and our internal task and project management system.

As opposed to a normal wiki where text is “flat”, the text and data inside a SMW can be structured in sophisticated ways that allow for meaningful querying of knowledge statements of the corpus. To give a more concrete example, a list of United States Vice Presidents by longevity must be maintained by humans on Wikipedia, whereas a similar list can be automatically generated via a query inside a semantic media wiki (supposing there are pages about the presidents in the first place). Or in the case of Creative Commons’ wiki, we use SMW to store information about case studies, which can then be recalled in interesting ways, such as listing all Creative Commons licensed projects that use text and are based in Australia. You can see the exact query used to generate that list by clicking “edit query” on the page. Try changing the country to something else to get a feel for how the search works.

One final aspect about SMW that makes it relevant to CC’s work is that it automatically creates RDF (the language of the semantic web) statements about pages. This gives any semantic media wiki a machine-readable output that allows for easy parsing by machines.

Sound familliar? That’s because Creative Commons encourages the use of RDFa to express license information about objects in webpages. RDFa is meant to be the “human readable” version of RDF which also contains machine readable statements. Think of it as extra-fancy XHTML with semantic sparkle dust.

Despite some real leaps in user-interface design for SMWs, editing and querying them remains a little confusing. Yaron Koren, the developer behind the essential Semantic Forms extension, has created a “quick reference guide” that he’s released under Creative Commons’ Attribution license.

Yaron has made the guide available in three formats so that it is easy to print (pdf), remix (svg), and read (png).

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