[Lod] EU COST action proposal

humphrey humphrey.southall at port.ac.uk
Fri Mar 7 14:27:51 CET 2014

Dear Kai,

Apologies for responding right at the last minute, but I am working with Leif Isaksen, in particular, so am to some extent covered by his involvement. Still, I would like to also support this.


I am the creator of the Great Britain Historical GIS and the Vision of Britain through Time web site which provides public access to it. Since 2009 that has been running on an infrastructure covering the whole of Europe and providing much detail for Sweden and Estonia as well as Britain: the core of it is an ontology of c. 80,000 administrative areas, from parishes upwards to whole countries and the EU itself. For Britain this is linked to a large database of historical statistics (c. 14m data values), each linked to both an administrative unit and information on meaning, defined in a separate statistical domain ontology (and, of course, a date). This was partly funded by the QVIZ FP6 project.

Until recently, none of this was exposed as LOD. For the last year we have had a prototype API offering RDF/XML and Turtle as well as JSON. However, we are now in the process of establishing a new gazetteer, PastPlace, which is global in scope but includes as much of our existing content as possible. This is using Wikidata Q-ids at its core, and the last week has been a frantic rush to get a first version established, so we can port the API to it before my only developer leaves. Leif’s Pelagios project is using those Wikidata IDs, and much of the annotations being generated by that project will be added to PastPlace, as will systematic work we are doing at Portsmouth on a very large 1850s gazetteer of the world (c. 7m. words, 80,000 articles). PastPlace will be a specifically historical gazetteer, and different from any existing large and open gazetteer I know of, because all names in it will be linked to the specific historical sources they are drawn from.

I have an AHRC “Big Data” grant which is not exactly for this, but rather to collaborate with the NSF-funded CHIA project (www.chia.pitt.edu), which is trying to establish a large database of historical statistics for the world over the last 4 centuries, primarily through crowd-sourcing contributions from expert contributors. My specific commitments to the AHRC include further developing that statistical domain ontology, and using it to expose our British statistical content by extending our API to support the W3C’s Data Cube Vocabulary (once I have replaced that developer …)

All of this is a bit under-funded. The PastPlace work has some money from Pelagios, but is mainly supported by our commercial earnings and an internal HEIF grant (HEFCE money for commercial pump priming): we make significant money from Google ads on Vision of Britain.

I am another of the organisers of the proposed Lausanne gazetteers workshop, where we are aiming to give the first public demo of the real PastPlace system. I am also one of the editors of an imminent book on digital gazetteers (well, we have 12 draft chapters), along with Lex Berman (Harvard) and Ruth Mostern (UC Merced).

Best wishes,

Humphrey Southall

Reader in Geography/
Director, GB Historical GIS
University of Portsmouth
Geography Dept, Buckingham Bldg,
Lion Terrace, Portsmouth PO1 3HE, UK
www.gbhgis.org & www.visionofbritain.org.uk

On 7 Mar 2014, at 10:47, Kai Eckert <kai at informatik.uni-mannheim.de> wrote:

> I like the text very much. I will submit it later, I would propose to do
> it earlier than 17:00 in order to leave some time to deal with potential
> submission problems.
> So @all: Give feedback or raise your concerns until 15:00 CET or we
> assume you accept it as is for submission :-)
> Cheers,
> Kai
> Am 07.03.2014 11:40, schrieb maurizio.lana:
>> Il 07/03/14 10:33, Sebastian Rahtz ha scritto:
>>> the state of the art for this initial registration (end of today in
>>> Europe)
>>> is as follows. comments? do remember that this isn't being evaluated - its
>>> purpose is simply to let the organisers assign appropriate evaluators.
>> got it.
>> kai it's up to you in a short time, am i right?
>> ciao
>> maurizio
>>> TITLE: Linked Open Data across the Humanities
>>> The mission of LODAH is to build a network of projects and researchers
>>> working with Linked Open Data (LOD) from across the whole field of the
>>> humanities who can engage with LOD-oriented research from a computer
>>> science perspective. The specific objectives will be encouraging and
>>> facilitating the interconnection and interoperability of open online
>>> Humanities resources, both existing and forthcoming, through LOD;
>>> raising awareness of new developments (both content and technology);
>>> and discussing, developing, and  publishing best practices. The main
>>> activities of LODAH will be to survey the use of ontologies adopted
>>> across humanities; to consider how they relate to each other; to
>>> identify gaps where disciplines are lacking clear exemplars and
>>> guidance; to build guidelines designed not only to reduce the
>>> fragmentation of approaches and ontologies but also to foster
>>> integration of methods and resources; and to find and possibly link
>>> other research initiatives in similar fields. This will happen by both
>>> testing ontologies and techniques developed for humanities data
>>> against the concerns of contemporary information engineering, and by
>>> testing the assumptions of modern data networks against the complexity
>>> of the humanities. This will make it easier for everyone  -  from
>>> citizens to SMEs - to reach and use complex historical, literary or
>>> philosophical data sets, and provide a marketplace for European SMEs
>>> to develop new tools and services. The initial LODAH membership
>>> includes a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, but  is also open
>>> to unforeseen domains and will be an environment in which young
>>> researchers can develop portable skills.
>>> KEYWORDS: Digital Humanities; Linked Open Data; Semantic Web; Cultural
>>> Heritage
>>> -- 
>>> Sebastian Rahtz      
>>> Director (Research) of Academic IT
>>> University of Oxford IT Services
>>> 13 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN. Phone +44 1865 283431
>>> Não sou nada.
>>> Nunca serei nada.
>>> Não posso querer ser nada.
>>> À parte isso, tenho em mim todos os sonhos do mundo.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Lod mailing list
>>> Lod at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>>> http://lists.lists.digitalhumanities.org/mailman/listinfo/lod
>> -- 
>> Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
>> Università del Piemonte Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
>> via Manzoni 8, 13100 Vercelli - tel. +39 347 7370925
>> _______________________________________________
>> Lod mailing list
>> Lod at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>> http://lists.lists.digitalhumanities.org/mailman/listinfo/lod
> -- 
> Dr. Kai Eckert, University of Mannheim
> Research Group Data and Web Science
> http://dws.informatik.uni-mannheim.de/
> Phone: +49 (0) 621 - 181 2637
> PGP Public Key:   http://www.kaiec.org/2012/pgp/pubkey.asc
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