Exploring Semantic Technologies in the Humanties

August 16th, 2010 § 7

I’d like to propose a session that explores the potential use of semantic web technologies, such as the Resource Description Framework RDF, in supporting research and other projects in the humanities. Some initial questions to start the discussion include:

  • What are these types of technologies used for?
  • What kinds of activities in the humanities do they support?
  • What are the kinds of problems that we’ve used these technologies to solve?
  • What kinds of issues have been explored in using these types of technologies?
  • Sharing thoughts on success stories, war stories and other experiences with these types of technologies.

To give my proposal some context:

I’m a software engineer currently working on the NeAT funded Aus-e-Stage project. This project is focused on developing three new services that expand on the existing services offered by the AusStage system. My current focus is on the construction of datasets that represent the artistic networks comprised in the AusStage dataset as part of the larger development effort on the Navigating Networks Service. The Navigating Networks Service, one of the three new services under development as part of the Aus-e-Stage project, uses an RDF based datastore to:

  • More efficiently store, represent, and query the 1.6 million unique collaborations between contributors in the database
  • Provide a bridge to other data formats required for graph visualisation such as GraphML
  • Explore the uses of RDF and semantic web technologies in preparation for a larger project to produce an RDF based version of the entire AusStage dataset

An opportunity for thought provoking discussion would be most welcome.

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§ 7 Responses to “Exploring Semantic Technologies in the Humanties”

  • I’d be really interested in this session. I am the new research director of Design and Art Australia Online. I’ve been charged with task of turning the current Dictionary of Australian Artists Online (daao) into an expanded and interoperable and exposed database. we have many shared aims. I’ve been chatting to Jonathan Bollen at Flinders about data exchange with ausstage. We are chatting to lots of people about syndication and the metadata issues are doing my head in. ( in a great way. its very challenging)

    I’ve only been on the job six weeks, and i am not a developer( I’m cribbing OWL, RDF on wikipedia at night), but I am certainly getting a really strong idea of what the daao needs to do to sustain and be a relevant and useful research tool. I’d love the chance to work through some issues talking about using semantic web.

  • wragge says:

    I am so there…

    My own semantic web efforts have been limited to a few little experiments — such as generating RDF and RDFa from NLA People Australia data, and using NLA party ids in machine tags on Flickr. But I’m about to create my first proper triple store for some museum data, and I’m plotting a new biographical project where everything will be exposed as Linked Data. So yes, I’m really looking forward to discussing some of the issues, particularly as they relate to museums, archives and biographical/identity data.

    Oh yes, and in case you hadn’t noticed all the camper pages now have embedded RDFa.

  • Cath says:

    Yes, this is an issue of great interest and importance! The following comment is probably an aside, but I must get it off my chest in case it strikes a chord with other campers.

    In my not-so-technical way, and I suppose because I’m a visual thinker, I’ve been fantasising about a tool for visually assembling and relating a group of records, and in the process generating semantic data. Ie, I’m wondering if we could leverage front end human interactions – drag-and-drop, arrows etc – to facilitate the generation of linked data. Rather than conceiving and assigning structural relationships in a void, for me it would be more intuitive to assign them through a symbolic visual array. Seems like this would be a useful tool for research/thought processes AND could potentially generate semantic data.

  • Anna says:

    Fantastic session proposal! We use semantic web technologies extensively in the Aus-e-Lit project and I’m very interested in discussing their potential and hearing about others’ experiences with applying them in humanities projects.

    Cath, I wonder if LORE would be of interest to you: You can assemble groups of web resources visually and attach relationships between them using drag and drop and publish the results as RDF-based “compound objects”. Here’s a quick demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezFB5ScBvCY

    More information on our website:

  • Cath says:

    ooo, thanks for that LORE info, Anna. I will checkitout!

  • KK says:

    This would be a great session. I’d love to have the use of semantic web tagging and open access explored and explained in really simple terms for the non-technicals like me attending THATCamp. As the director of AustLit the project for which LORE was built I’m really keen to see other applications, understand it all better, and find ways of collaborating with others in related fields.

    I’m interested to hear about the DAAO re-dev Gillian. I think AustLit may be a target for data exchange too.

  • [...] didn’t realise it at the time but my suggestion of a session on Exploring the Semantic Technologies in the Humanities was to prove a popular session and one that I would need to facilitate. This caught me be surprise [...]

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