RiC / MCN – Why Music-China.org is the right choice for culture documentation (heritage preservation)

Screenshot_HuaerDuring our implementations of the semantic mediawiki, our team came into a strong discussion on what the benefit of RockinChina.com and Music-China.org actually is. We were told that especially for traditional Chinese music, there is already a great website called “Wikipedia” that not only has more users, but is far more known. Well, let me tell you the reason why Music-China.org is the right choice for cultural documentation of Chinese music! The reason why we can do it better in terms of heritage preservation!

Let’s have a look at a Chinese music genre called Hua’er (of which above screenshot is taken). At wikipedia one will not find too much information about Hua’er, except one sentence:

Hua’er, a form popular in the northwestern China provinces such as GansuNingxia and Qinghai, named to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009

At Music-China.org however you will find:

  • An official UNESCO youtube video showcasting the music style
  • A semantical relationship between Hua’er and other music styles (FolkMountain Songs)
  • Open, exportable RDF about the genre including a Dublin Core abstract
  • A brief explanation as well as genre scene information as published by the Ministry of Culture of China (as public domain)
  • An overview of recent developments for preservation and safeguardsing as described in the UNESCO nomination letter in 2009.
  • The opportunity to mark songs and artists with this particular genre, i.e. making it semantic and linked! (and thereby exportable via RDF!)

In short, Music-China.org provides every user the opportunity to combine as many sources as possible and include the information on the wiki. Wikipedia in theory has the same functionality, however a different mission statement! Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which wants to describe any given topic in a neutral point of view on a precise yet also brief way. Gig listings, such as on artists pages (see Subs), re-iterations of lengthy sections of legal documents (see Hua’er) or individual concert reviews (see Suffocated) as references would never have a chance of passing the notability criteria of Wikipedia. And that is the strength of Music-China.org! Everyone can enter as much data about a topic as he or she wants to without the fear of strong notability requirements (see our own).

Surplus – and that is something that Wikipedia has NOT yet implemented on their own system – every data entered at RiC / MCN can be exported or called upon via RDF! We are semantic and very much alive!

Another example to show why Rock in China and Music-China.org are the better choice!

Screenshot_CuiJian1Our very own Cui Jian page compared to the Wikipedia one:

  • Wikipedia: 2112 words
  • RiC / MCN: 9039 words

Surplus, Wikipedia is listing Cui Jian at RiC as External Link and thereby as reference for everyone who wants to know more than the brief encyclopedic entry that WP provides.

Additionally RiC / MCN features

  • numerous music videos of Cui Jian that are collected via the Freebase / Google / Youtube API connection, RiC
  • an up-to-date system crawl for articles and books about Cui Jian in the “Further information” section
  • semantic annotations for the place of origin, Cui Jian’s main genre, his records and his musicbrainz UID

Need more examples? Check out this table:

Band Word count at RiC/MCN Word count at WP
Carsick Cars  3628 424
Subs  5112 0
Tang Dynasty  3721 604
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RiC / MCN – A little bit of magic for events

Screenshot_Events1Another day, another post about the semantic magic that is happening over at merry merry Rock in China and Music-China.org: Events & Festivals!

Previously being lone pages that by hand were featured on our main page, events have become far more lively thanks to the magic worked by Semantic Mediawiki! As you can see in the above screenshot, we feature a moveable timeline showing all documented events in the system, starting with the latest one. As we haven’t entered all events with semantics, only a handful show up, such as

Screenshot_Events4Our stylish new form is asking for a few of the key facts of every event:

  • Poster
  • Title
  • Start date & time, End date & time
  • Organizer (you can add more than one)
  • Event Location (you can add more than one, e.g. for JUE festival, Beijing and Shanghai)
  • Participants (i.e. bands and artists)

These data will then be included in a factbox to the right of the page and a brief section about the bands is being added:

Screenshot_Events2To be honest, our events section is not as advanced as our artist page, but there are already a few cool effects we have added to make your data input more than just a plain events page:

Special events are being displayed on the VENUE page of the event, e.g. check out the Starlive or the Shanghai MAO live house page which display these events in a nice gallery:

Screenshot_Events3With release of SMW 1.8 and SMR 1.8 (incl. its enhanced gallery function) we hope to roll out this special treatment with backlinks to the event not just on venue pages but also on artists pages and on city pages. Surplus there are plans to make all events available based on genre selection (but that will require a little bit more magic beans).

For more info on our semantic implementation of events, its properties and class equivalences, check out our Semantic Approach project page.

 

Ric / MCN: The difference between artists and musicians

Jiebing_Chen

Within our wiki there are two distinct categories and data classes being used for sometimes (confusingly) the same thing:

Whereas the first category contains BOTH musical groups AND musical (solo) artists, the second group comprises of only individual persons. For standard band / musician formations that is easy to implement, e.g. Kaiser Kuo is a musician playing in the band Spring Autumn and hence Kaiser Kuo is categorized as a PERSON and Spring Autumn is categorized as an ARTIST.

However if one looks at e.g. Jiebing Chen one notices that two pages are being setup:

  1. Jiebing Chen
  2. Jiebing Chen (Artist)

It is necessary to set up two pages (that are interlinked) as both classes are storing different properties which are not the same. E.g. the INSTRUMENT that a person plays is stored on the PERSON class, whereas the YOUTUBEID with an example song is stored on the ARTIST class.

Reason behind is that (usually) a PERSON is adopting an ARTIST NAME or a STAGE PRESENCE or an IMAGINATIVE FIGURE to perform. E.g. a lot of Hongkong pop singers adopt an English name instead of their Cantonese birth name for recording and publishing music. Hence all MUSIC-related activities that are related to the STAGE NAME are being documented on the ARTIST page. All PERSON-related activities (filmography, early life, death, etc.) is documented on the PERSON page.

Folk artists not necessarily adopt a specific name for their music activities (such as Jiebing Chen above), however folk artists are often present in more than one band or project. As such the PERSON page is the more important of the two for these musicians and all their own musician activities would become documented within e.g. Jiebing Chen (Artist) or any of the project / groups / bands the musician played with.

If that gets complicated, think of COMEDIANS and how they usually have certain fixed ROLES they enact on stage. Some of these comedians release CDs or DVDs solely about one ROLE and some of them even go as far as enact that ROLE in their daily life. E.g. German comedian Hape Kerkeling has the following roles:

  1. Evje van Dampen
  2. Gisela
  3. Günther Warnke
  4. Hannilein
  5. Horst Schlämmer
  6. Rico Mielke
  7. R.I.P. Uli
  8. Siegfried Schwäbli
  9. Uschi Blum
  10. Wolfgang

out of which Horst Schlämmer got his own movie, own TV appearances and own cinema advertisements. Yet Horst Schlämmer is not Hape Kerkeling as it is just a stage presence created for a purpose of distributing comedy.

There is no system in the world that can truely map all the nuances and details present in human life, yet we hope that this system brings the ideal of mapping music close enough.

This is a part of our always expanding STYLEGUIDE.

RiC / MCN – Improved performance / faster side-loading

Screenshot_statsAs some of you definitely have noticed, Rock in China and Music-China weren’t the fastest of websites in the past few weeks. Irrespective if one viewed the page via VPN from China, without VPN from China, from Macau or Europe, there was a certain slowness to the page that made editing often a time-consuming process.

Away with that! With some mediawiki magic thrown into the bucket things are up to speed and you can enjoy our website in real-time! Check it out!

By the way… as shown in above API Statistics screenshot… we have crossed 11 million pageviews!

RiC / MCN – Discovering China’s cities – Geographical music

Screenshot_BeijingWe already mentioned the new artists pages (incl. advanced magic) and the refined genre pages that are being featured at Rockinchina.com and Music-China.org. Now let’s have a look at the new City Pages, e.g. Beijing (screenshot above). Following a similar layout as the other pages, every city page offers a Google Maps displaying all documented venues in that city!

That is being made possible by the semantic property GeoLocation which is to be entered on any venue form. E.g. on the page of D-22 the geographical location 39° 59′ 27″ N, 116° 19′ 4″ E is being mentioned. This property is being called up on the city page along with all other Beijing venue geodata to be displayed on a Google Map.

Next to map there is our standard box with general information about the city including its name (English, Chinese, Pinyin), its semantic relationship to it being a province, as well as three magic numbers that are being generated from our semantic database:

  • Number of bands associated
  • Number of venues in town
  • Number of musicians born or died in town

These figures are automatically compiled using the data entered on either ARTIST pages, VENUE pages or PEOPLE pages. When you click on the links for (show all), you will see the individual lists.

Additionally as on most other pages, also the Template:Definitions is being set that allows to semantically connect a city to the same entity at either wikipedia, dbpedia or freebase.

Our magic template {{ArticleinPage}} is also working on city pages and relates any ARTICLE that has been tagged with Beijing to this city page.

Here is a little Infographic that shows the interwiki relations:

Infographic - CityAs always, all semantic relations, including the band / musician / venue relations are available as RDF Export on the city page (e.g. RDF Export for Beijing). And via the semantic linkage to the Open Linked Data Cloud (sameas property to dbpedia, etc.), all data can be entered and re-used!

RiC / MCN – The advanced magic of semantic web data aka Music Experienced

Screenshot_AdvancedIn the last post we already have explained how the new artist page is set up in general. We also had a brief look on the Template:Definitions which enables semantic linking to other web databases and thereby includes RiC and MCN in the world-wide Open Linked Data Cloud. Apart from that particular template and the general Form for new artists there are a number of magic spells that can be woven to make our system even more fantastic!

Above is a snapshot from our semantic data project page showing two template codes that can be used on various pages in the system.

The first one is used to manually add music videos to e.g. Artist pages, Record Pages, Song pages, Opera pages, etc. etc. in addition to the Youtube ID that should have been already entered in the respective page form. Everytime a YOUTUBE ID is entered in such a way, a property (Hasvideo) is set that links the page with the youtube video and makes it available in our system to be called upon from any other page. For more on video at RiC / MCN, please have a look at our article on how to add videos.

The second template called Template:FreeDownload is used to refer any page, e.g. ARTIST, RECORD, SONG, etc. with an URL that either contains a MP3 file or that contains some kind of method to download legal and free music (e.g. imusicbox.hk). Once again, with every used template for a download, the URL is being attributed to the property (mo:free_download) and can be used throughout the whole system, e.g. on our Downloads page in the Songs section. If you “edit” that section you see the actual called upon code:

{| class="wikitable" border=1 cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="80%"
!Artist Image
!Artist Name
!Free Download Link (either MP3 or URL)
|-
{{#ask: [[Category:Artists]] [[mo:free_download::+]]
|?Image
|?mo:free_download
|mainlabel=Artist
|format=template
|template=ShowDownloadTable
}}
|}

With that magic word “ask” and the query behind that every free download within our system and linked on an Artist page can be called upon.

Screenshot_ArticlesNext up in our spell book is the Template:ArticleinPage which is very close to Template:Booksinpage. It basically crawls through the Category:Articles and searchs for any article or blog entry or journal article or scientific paper that has been tagged with the name of the page on which this template is mentioned. E.g. on Carsick Cars it will find two articles:

and include them at the place of the template. Hence no more copy & past for interview articles, just one entry with the Form:Add a New Article and voila, the article will appear on the band page.

Next on the list of magic spells is the semantic definition foaf:made:: within the Discography section:

== Discography ==
=== Albums ===
<gallery>
Image:xxx|[[Foaf:made::Title (Artist)|Title]] - Year
</gallery>

When entering an album on the page of a band (still needs to be done manually), then one has to include the prefix Foaf:made:: before the actual title, e.g. [[foaf:made::You Can Listen, You Can Talk (Carsick Cars)|You Can Listen, You Can Talk]] as shown in

Image:CSC-YCLYCT.jpg|[[foaf:made::You Can Listen, You Can Talk (Carsick Cars)|You Can Listen, You Can Talk]] – 2009, June

That way we will be able to recognize which record belongs to a band. For sure a similar reference is being set on a record page but as there will always be more band pages than record pages, this way no information is lost. Surplus we use this method to be able to find RECORD pages based on properties set on ARTIST pages. Think, all records from metal bands formed in 1999.

Summing up: There are a lot of templates available (with most of them being explained on our semantic approach project page) that not only add value to an individual page, but also to the whole system and other pages. Last but not least, by using the templates and magic words additional properties are set for individual pages. Properties that can be exported via RDF (see example RDF export for Carsick Cars) and re-used in other pages.

RiC / MCN – An explanation on the new ARTIST pages

Screenshot-CSC_1This is our second post about the new system we implemented at Rock in China and Music-China.org and within this post we talk about the new ARTIST pages and what new possibilities arise.

First of all, when opening a page, e.g. Carsick Cars, any reader is giving two visual impressions of the band:

  • a band photo (as before)
  • and a Youtube video (for everyone outside of China)

The other standard data such as Artist Origin, name, Genre and other information is as usual displayed in the table underneath the profile pic and now also within two additional boxes before the general history starts:

Screenshot-CSC_2

This data is not entered anymore with a simple wiki template in wiki code but we are offering a standard form that can be reached by the “edit with form” tag on top of the artist page.

Screenshot-CSC_5This form is generated via the Semantic Forms extension and each input in this form will not only appear on the ARTIST page itself, but will also be used on other pages. E.g. When one enters a GENRE or several genres into the respective field, our system understands that Carsick Cars is e.g. a ROCK and an INDIE artist. As such on the respective genre pages, the band would appear in the band list, its records in the record list, and, if a youtube video ID is entered, also in the list of randomly selected music videos.

When the ORIGIN or PRESENT LOCATION of a band is entered, e.g. Beijing or Wuhan, then the artist gets automatically associated with the city and the band count on the CITY page is going up by one.

Coming to the next new feature: semantic connections to the Open Linked Data world in the web! Sounds… unmusical? unsure what it means? Basically with the following wiki template that is being placed on nearly every site of RockinChina & Music-China we are connecting our system with the systems of the web:

Screenshot-CSC_6Called “Definitions” one has the option to enter a number of URIs or Links to major websites such as

  • Wikipedia
  • DBPedia (same as wikipedia, just semantic)
  • Freebase
  • Musicbrainz
  • Youtube

We use these links to enable the following:

Screenshot-CSC_3

Screenshot-CSC_4There are two collapsible tables at the bottom of the page:

  • Further videos – which uses the “Freebase ID” (/m/……) to call up to 50 music videos about the ARTIST from Youtube and include them in our system
  • Further definitions – which uses semantic data linking (sameas or foaf:primaryTopic) to link our ARTIST page to corresponding ARTIST pages in the web

What are the benefits?

  1. With the semantic linking we can tell the machines in the world that our CARSICK CARS artist is the same CARSICK CARS artist as already written about on Wikipedia, Freebase, Musicbrainz and DBPedia, and well… yes also the same CARSICK CARS that has an automatic youtube channel!
  2. Machines and humans alike can now check out the other pages and compare the content and information. In the future it will be also possible for machines and persons that are on Youtube or that surf on Wikipedia to understand that RockinChina and Music-China has also a page and probably with more content. So Chinese artists will be found more easily.
  3. All the data that is entered about an ARTIST, such as the image, the name, the founding city, can not be attributed not only on RockinChina but also on DBPedia. Machines know that CARSICK CARS on DBPedia is the same CARSICK CARS as on RockinChina. But only on RockinChina the complete data set is available. DBPedia can now import the data set and complete their data along with a reference link to the extensive history page at Rock in China.
  4. The same is true for Musicbrainz, which is already in talks to use Rock in China as an official whitelisted database! With semantics in place, it will be possible to update either our records or the musicbrainz ones respectively!
  5. In conclusion that means: Whenever you enter data at Rock in China about a Chinese band, you will feed the Open Linked Data cloud with this data and enable the world to learn about the band, the artist, the record, the music scene of China!