Teaching SPARQL as a Foreign Language

Martin Poulter

Playlists: 'wikidatacon2019' videos starting here / audio / related events

This talk reports on my experience of using the Wikidata Query Service as a platform to teach non-technical audiences about knowledge representation. This training treats SPARQL as a language to be learned from example, like any human language. Part of the approach is to use pen-and-paper graphs and role-play. Another part of the approach is to deliberately avoid a lot of the technical language that we use when talking about Semantic Web and Linked Open Data. The goal is just to give people confidence to write queries about topics that interest them, and generate visualisations that will be useful in their work. A side-effect is that attendees come to appreciate the awesome and unique power of Wikidata and its query service. Wikidata is ideally suited for this kind of training, with its enormous diversity of subjects, its many languages, its many query examples and especially its colourful, interactive query interface.