RB Search Gizmos

Find Connections Between People Using Wikidata With The PeopleLinx Affiliations Lookup (PAL)

Everything’s interesting, but the intersections between everything are sometimes even more interesting. And when you’re using Wikidata, there are lots of things and lots of intersections.

I was wondering if there was any way you could throw a huge amount of people at Wikidata in a useful way – no extra data, no context, just names – so I thought of intersections. Enter a bunch of names and find what they have in common. But it had to be a BUNCH of people. It wouldn’t be nearly as useful if you could only enter, say, ten people. And there had to be plenty of parameters to match by!

This turned out to be rather more difficult than I thought (as usual) but eventually I got it going and I’m pleased to offer you the PeopleLinx Affiliations Lookup, or PAL, at

https://searchgizmos.com/pal/ . And I’ve tested it with 150 names at a time and it works great, though it takes a while to group all the names.

Using PAL

Screenshot from 2023-04-17 09-47-00

Using PAL is easy: just enter a list of names separated by commas. (You don’t have to pre-screen them to see if they’re in Wikidata or not; if they’re not PAL will skip them.) PAL will go through the names and group the affiliations they have in common, then present that to you in a list.

Let’s do an example and look up the affiliations between these people:

Barack Obama, George W. Bush,  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey

Paste that list into the text box and click on the Find Affiliations button. It will change to Loading… as all the data gets sorted.

The first part of the data you’ll get is a bar graph showing which organizations have the most affiliations to the people in the list. The big winner in this case was the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, with 7 people on the list being affiliated. (I added this at the last minute because I wanted to see how the D3.js library worked, so it’s not fancy or interactive.) If you’re searching LOTS and LOTS of names you can get a LOT of bars, and the chart labels will get messy.

Screenshot from 2023-04-17 09-59-39

The second thing you’ll see is how the list of people you provided breaks out into groups. That includes person name, organization name, and affiliation.

Screenshot from 2023-04-17 10-04-33

I wanted to make sure the groups would always be distinct so PAL generates a random color for each group of people; lots of groups make it rainbow-y. Sometimes the colors make the text unreadable; highlight the text or reload the search to correct it. (I’m working on that.)

Each listing has search links for Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. The searches for those links combine the name of the person and their affiliated organization. The Google search results for the first listing, Barack Obama and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, look like this:

Screenshot from 2023-04-17 10-10-09

When I showed PAL to my husband, he agreed that it would be useful if you were trying to make sense of the connections in a group of people, but what if you were trying to make sense of the connections between a group of people and a group of companies/organizations? I agreed you’d need a different tool for that, so I made it as well. I’ll tell you about that one next.

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