I’m sitting here with my dear friend Kirrily Robert of Freebase. Her office is being remodelled, so decided to work from home in London for a week. We hung out with the geeks and drank to excess on Sunday (Kirrily says she drank to “sufficient”), so today we’ve been geeking Freebase and Wikipedia and social content creation and so forth.
Freebase is a collection of structured data, with little or no notability barrier. (Spam is fine if it’s structured data!) The differences from Wikimedia are that (a) it’s all CC-by (b) it’s run by a company, not by a charity. The differences from Google Base is that (a) you can do mashups of every data table with every other data table (b) they don’t want your private data (unless you want your daily calorie counts available forever under CC-by).
Advancing Freebase is in line with Wikimedia goals, as it’s useful free content (and the dumps work). The really good thing you can do is: if you’re getting someone to release a bunch of data, do your damnedest to get it under CC-by or public domain. That way we can have it and they can have it and everyone can have it.
The other thing we rambled about was the social structure of the thing. At the moment Freebase’s Alexa rank is about 47,000; socially it sounds like Wikipedia in 2002. The key point is that in a public participatory content production project, people are all your problems and this is not susceptible to quick fixes, technical or social. Just so she knows what they’re in for.