Dynamically Wikipedia-fying Text: Drawdoc and Wikiproxy Greasemonkey script

http://nagle.u1i.net/drawdoc/autolinker.php and http://wikiproxy.whitelabel.org/greasemonkey.html

Both of these accomplish pretty similar things – take an existing web page, and turn proper nouns/key terms into links to wikipedia automatically.

Drawdoc is currently a web-based app (but not hard to see how it could be a service instead) that employs Yahoo’s term extraction service to identify the salient terms in a document, and then offers possible image matches from Yahoo images, and annotates those terms with links to either Wikipedia, Google or Yahoo to the selected terms.

The Wikiproxy Greasemonkey script works slightly differently, as a Greasemonkey script that appears to just look for ‘Proper Nouns’ on a page and then annotate them as the page is rendered with links to wikipedia. So works on the client side, but the effect is similar, a text automatically annotated with key words to wikipedia.

In both cases what seems lacking is a connection to wikipedia that actually confirms there is something to link to before creating the link. Not surprising. That’s not how they are intended to work, they are lightweight mashups. But the IDEA here is important – start thinking about collections you have on your campus that are pedagogically significant to your students – how tough would it be to code a greasemonkey script that then rendered key terms in your online course as a link to that collection.. of anatomical images? of learning objects? …you get the idea. Why do this? Well, in the case of an approach like drawdoc, it could become an automated annotator for your CMS-based courses, saving time and effort. With a greasemonkey-type approach, it could potentially become a tool that augmented the students experience of materials you didn’t create and don’t control with links to content in collections you trust.

Mashups are here. They’re even commonplace, almost. But just wait until they start invading the academy. You can already get a list of the available ‘web 2.0 APIs’ (that is almost inevitably incomplete) – do you know what’s available inside your own institution? …you’re either on the bus, or it’s running over you… exciting times indeed. – SWL

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