|(Damn! I should blog more often.)
I have been using MediaWiki for my character/world notes so far, and it seems to perform very adequately. Semantic MediaWiki is an awesome enhancement that makes MediaWiki the best damn information organisation tool ever.
However, there are certain things that could make it much easier to use SMW for organising information about fictional entities.
Semantic MediaWiki makes it much easier to categorise information. A quick example:
<blockquote>The Protagonist has a [[friend::The King
|friend in high places]].
</blockquote>This establishes a relation between The Protagonist and The King - specifically, that The Protagonist’s friend is The King. In semantic terms, we have a triple of information: subject (The Protagonist), predicate (friend), and object (The King). This is an one-way relation - The King isn’t necessarily the Protagonist’s friend - but if the article about the King says “The King also considers [[friend::The Protagonist]] a close associate”, then we have established a two-way relation.
This data can also be simply information: The Protagonist is a [[occupation::lumberjack]]. The Protagonist has downed [[beers drunk::2936]] pints over his life. The Protagonist was born in [[birthdate::May 19, 632]] AD in [[birthplace::The Cold Northern Country]].
Now, the latter two properties have a few small problems which I’d like to discuss.
Semantic MediaWiki date type is perfectly suitable for real-world dates. It’s less suitable for fictional dates. Avarthrel uses Gregorian calendar to a certain extent to make it much easier for me to compute dates (this is just a total coincidence as far the world is concerned, of course); The funny part is that the calendar has an odd notion of years. Fantasy worlds aren’t fantasy worlds unless the people wouldn’t start a new calendar due to a gigantic event, just because. Obviously, I can’t use the thing with a weird calendar.
Another date-related oddity is that dates can’t be used with semantic properties, unless I specifically add dates to everything and add specific processing rules for the dates.
In other words, I can’t say “The Protagonist worked as a lumberjack in May 3, 651. In May 15, 651, the Protagonist became Sir Protagonist, the Knight. In May 29, 651, the Protagonist became the Liberator, Saviour and Prince of the Principality of Halfakingdomnia” - or, rather, I can say it, it’s just that it needs extra clumsiness that makes doing all other kinds of queries difficult, too. It would be exceedingly cool to add historical perspective to the properties so it would be possible to do queries like “what was the Protagonist’s occupation in May 16, 651?” without affecting queries like “what is the Protagonist’s occupation - or, rather, all known occupations over time?”
The location presents another problem. The Protagonist lives - or lived - in a Cold Little Town with Shacks… which is located in the Northern Backwaters Farming County… in the Duchy of Big Hopes But Little Rewards, in The Cold Northern Country. But all the semantic data just tells us that the Protagonist lives in a Cold Little Town with Shacks. That alone should answer the questions “Which country does The Protagonist live in?” or, through a second-degree inference, “Who is the duke who reigns over his lands?” Geopolitical data is hierarchical in nature, and I hope this sort of properties and queries would be far easier to do.