Programmable Web has announced the availability of a new API for automating queries to Wikipedia. That may not sound very exciting, but stay with me – it gets better.
The API can be used to query Wikipedia using SQL-like queries. OK, so what can it do?
The docs page lists many new possibilities. For instance, you can use it to perform “smart searches”. The Leipzig query builder gives ready examples, for finding all the tennis players from Moscow or all the sitcoms set in New York City. Making your own query requires you to understand SQL, though.
At the time of this posting, the query engines of Berlin, OpenLink, and Free Text Search all seem to be having database errors, probably because of all the heavy traffic they’re getting. But the upshot is that this can enable webmasters (and bloggers) to automatically include tables, data sets, and other gizmos in the body of a post without having to do the grunt work. This will look something like the infobox templates current on Wikipedia. I’ll wait for the blog plug-ins to show up.
Here’s one fun toy that’s still holding up: The Relationship Finder lets you play “six degrees of separation” with any two phrases. For instance, asking it all the relations between Windows XP and Linux gave me a list of links all through Mac OS X, (they’re both hybrid kernels), the only relation between Paris Hilton and Bill Gates is that they were both born in the United States, and, well, here’s my results for Ronald Reagan and Adolf Hitler.
Now all we have to do is drop it into a Flash game and we’ll have the next Googlefight.
Another related use case is a mind map. Find all the related concepts to a given term. Here is the mind-map for PHP. You can then click any of the branches to find all of the concepts related to that.
While we’re at it, here’s TechMeme’s Nine Cool Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Wikipedia.
- Torturing Wolfram Alpha
- Fascinating Wikipedia Ephemera
- The Weirdest Sites Ever
- Blog Carnival?Technology Related.
- Google and the Concept of a Landing Page