Penguin Classics portal on Wikisource

I’ve made a start of a system to pull data from Wikidata and generate a portal for the Penguin Classics, with appropriate links for those that are on Wikisource or are ready to be transcribed.

I’m a bit of a Sparql newbie, so perhaps this could’ve been done in a single query. However, I’m doing it in two stages: first, gathering all the ‘works’ that have at least one edition published by Penguin Classics, and then finding all editions of each of those works and seeing if any of them are on Wikisource. Oh, and including the ones that aren’t, too!

Wikidata:WikiProject Books sort of uses the FRBF model to represent primarily books and editions (‘editions’ being a combination of manifestation and expression levels of the FRBF; i.e. an edition realises and embodies a work). So most of the metadata we want exists at the ‘work’ level: title, author, date of first publication, genre, etc.

At the ‘edition’ level we look for a link to Wikisource (because a main-namespace item on Wikisource is an edition… although this gets messy; see below), and a link to the edition’s transcription project. Actually, we also look for these on the work itself, because often Wikidata has these properties there instead or as well — which is wrong.

Strictly speaking, the work metadata shouldn’t have anything about where the work is on Wikisource (either mainspace or Index file). The problem with adhering to this, however, is that by doing so we break interwiki links from Wikisource to Wiktionary. Because a Wikipedia article is (almost always) about a work, and we want to link a top-level Wikisource mainspace pages to this work… and the existing systems for doing this don’t allow for the intermediate step of going from Wikisource to the edition, then to the work and then to Wikipedia.

So for now, my scruffy little script looks for project links at both levels, and seems to do so successfully.

The main problem now is that there’s just not much data about these books on Wikidata! I’ll get working on that next…

Reading, quietly

There is something exquisite in the act of sitting still in a comfortable place, reading, with a nice view. Writing sometimes, to note down the habits of passing sheep. And sometimes drinking, perhaps, once the sun has dropped to that point in the sky. But the important thing is the still small quiet that can be felt, occasionally. And the ability to see a bit of a distance. A good book helps, but isn’t really the point.

Penguin Classics on Wikisource

As a way of learning Sparql and more about Wikidata, I’m trying to make a list of which pre-1924 Penguin Classics are on Wikisource.

Penguin lists their books at penguin.com.au/browse/by-imprint/penguin-classics.

The following Wikidata Query Service query lists all editions published by Penguin, their date of original publication, and whether there’s an Index page on Wikisource for the work or edition.

SELECT ?edition ?editionLabel ?work ?workLabel ?originalPublicationDate ?wikisourceIndexForWork ?wikisourceIndexForEdition
WHERE
{
  ?edition wdt:P31 wd:Q3331189 .
  ?edition wdt:P577 ?publicationDate .
  ?edition wdt:P123 ?publisher .
  FILTER(
    ?publisher = wd:Q1336200 # Penguin Books Q1336200
    || ?publisher = wd:Q11281443 # Penguin Classics Q11281443
  )
  ?edition wdt:P629 ?work .
  OPTIONAL{ ?work wdt:P577 ?originalPublicationDate } .
  OPTIONAL{ ?work wdt:P1957 ?wikisourceIndexForWork } .
  OPTIONAL{ ?edition wdt:P1957 ?wikisourceIndexForEdition } .
  SERVICE wikibase:label { bd:serviceParam wikibase:language "en" }
}

I’m not sure how often the WDS data is updated, but so far it’s not being very useful for on-the-fly checking of recent updates. I’m sure there’s a better way of doing that though.

Melbourne and Mars, by Joseph Fraser

Some notes from Melbourne and Mars, by Joseph Fraser:

  1. You cannot go twenty miles in any direction without finding an electric fountain, free to the public, from which the accumulators of any travelling machine can be instantly recharged.

  2. …indeed, we have no wilful lawbreakers anywhere.

  3. We have no hunting of wild beasts; they have all been exterminated long ago. This extermination has extended to vermin and insect plagues, and even to some kinds of animalculæ. There is nothing that can bite, sting, or injure us in any way.

Publisher-provided metadata

Reading on an ereader, I seem to lose all of the “publisher’s metadata”: there is no longer any hint of what type of book this is — no cover to judge, no binding, no typography to tell if it’s a serious literary thing or a pulpy time-passer or an old forgotten once-loved.

It’s probably good this way. Lets the text speak for itself. Mainly the loss harms my ability to recall a book, more than the way I receive its words. No more recollection of 20th century authors as dusty orange Penguins with failing glue. Now they sit alongside every other of any time whose surname begins as theirs does, or is (as arbitrarily) co-alphabetically titled.

Perhaps what I’m looking for is a chronology of literature? Victorians vs. post-war makes more sense than the alphabet as a reading criteria!

History of West Australia (proofread)

Title page of the book. From https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:History_of_West_Australia.djvu/7I have finished proofreading Mister Kimberly’s 1897 History of West Australia, or at least the first twenty-one main chapters. I fixed up a couple of hundred typographical errors in the Wikisource text.

There really wasn’t much wrong, just small stuff. I was repeatedly amazed at the high quality of the proofreading and typesetting of Hesperian and Moondyne — and dozens of others, as well, of course! (I don’t know how to find out the contributor statistics of a whole swath of pages at once.)

Urbex Preservationism

I have a new name for my hobby…

Then there are the self-styled “guerilla preservationists”, deep into heritage theory, and genuinely committed to creating a coherent photographic and textual record of buildings that would otherwise crumble unnoticed until a developer arrived to raze all trace of them.

The strange world of urban exploration, Robert Macfarlane, September 2013.

Anyway, it’s a good article.

Shame Perth is so hell-bent on obliterating everything, whenever there’s development to be done. Fucking yellow sand and bulldozers!