History Beyond the Facts

September 29th, 2010

I’m looking for people to collaborate with to build linked datasets for history. Historical knowledge can be vague and uncertain. The form in which historical knowledge is communicated is as much a part of its content as the “facts,” yet typical approaches to open and linked data focus solely on facts and very little on form. What can the open and linked data community learn from the challenges of grappling with history? What new forms of public history might emerge if historians open up their research notes and intermingle them with those of genealogists, archivists, curators, hobbyists and tourists? What forms of “historical logic” are amenable to formalization, if any? How might “distant reading” techniques be applied to historical scholarship to find, for example, patterns of emplotment?

For more of my thoughts on some of these topics, see my recent article in the Bulletin of ASIS&T.

5 Responses to “History Beyond the Facts”

  1. Raymond Yee on September 30, 2010 3:52 pm

    I’d be interested in participating in Ryan’s proposed session. I’ve been exploring the idea of building software to help people learn about music and art history by using Freebase and the Wikipedia as a scaffold of “facts” and basic background materials. Art and music history have particular demands, but there should be some overlap with the questions that Ryan talks about here.

  2. Kathy Harris on October 4, 2010 6:31 pm

    This sounds like a great session. Though I do literary history, it’s still difficult to graphically represent all of the data to my students. We use a timeline (SIMILE) to do so but if there’s something better, I’m all for it.

  3. Supriya Wronkiewicz on October 6, 2010 5:19 am

    This sounds like an interesting session. I’m considering going back for a PhD at some point so it would be interesting to see what comes from such a discussion.

  4. George Oates on October 6, 2010 8:46 pm

    I’d be really curious to see if it was possible to build some sort of map of the evolution of library subject headings over time.

    For each subject heading, find the publish dates of the editions published with that heading, and then slap them all on some sort of timeline.

  5. Aditi Muralidharan on October 9, 2010 12:28 am

    Fascinating! I Certainly want to participate.

    There a already a few of other projects in this space, including one I’m becoming involved with: a proto-linked-data set of relationships of different kinds between authors, painters, and other kinds of artists who lived at the Yaddo in the 19th Century.

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