Digital Humanities 2014: Workshop
8th July, 2014
To register, go to the Digital Humanities 2014 website.
Ontologies for Prosopography: Who’s Who? or, Who was Who?
Linked data has become an increasingly popular fixture in digital humanities research because it offers a way to break out of the data silos that are constantly being created, and provides a framework for new ways of approaching research questions. Tim Berners-Lee’s four principles of linked data, however, remind us that global identifiers for entities – URIs – provide only a part of what is needed if linked data is to fulfil its promise. As much as possible, we also need common semantic frameworks to better tie the data together – what are called “ontologies”.
In a seminal paper way back in 1993 Thomas Gruber defined an ontology as an “explicit specification of a shared conceptualisation”. We will be focusing on possibilities for an ontology for prosopography because, for historical data at least, people, places and textual sources are likely to be the three pillars upon which a structure of linked data can be constructed, and these three things are likely to be the primary entry point for a collection of linked historical data. While methodologies for dealing with textual sources are being continually refined, the success of the Pelagios project has demonstrated how historical geographic information, in this case classical, can be used to bring together a wide variety of projects. This workshop will address the issues of bringing linked data to the description of historical persons with the morning session devoted to exploring the question of whether there are sufficient common concepts – a shared conceptualisation – to enable for the practical and useful development of an ontology for historical persons, and the afternoon addressing the challenges of linking these descriptions together to create a shared resource.