Friday, April 4, 2014

xEAC in London: SNAP 2014

I was recently in London to discuss ANS participation in the Standards for Networking Ancient Prosopographies meeting, hosted by King's College London, March 31 - April 1. Most Roman imperial people related to coins have already had URIs minted about them on, and we are about to create nomisma IDs for Roman Republican moneyers. Additionally, we will be creating a large number of Greek authorities in the coming months. The as-of-now institutionally unaffiliated is another thesaurus which will contain numerous URIs for Greek potters and painters which may supplement SNAP with biographical information or objects of cultural heritage. Lastly, I discussed the Roman Imperial Social Network (RISN) project, for which we have requested a grant to develop further. This is a prosopography of the Roman Empire built on EAC-CPF from existing open resources on the web (such as Tom Elliott's PIR RDF and DBpedia) and embellished with xEAC to include important life events, occupations, and places (linked to Pleiades).

Meeting Overview

The meeting was a great experience, and I always find these sorts of gatherings (like LAWDI) useful for learning what other people are working on. There was, of course, some overlap from previous LAWDIs, in terms of participants or projects. The Syriac Reference Portal once again made an appearance, as did Tresmigestos. Maggie Robb is working on a prosopography of the Roman Republic, and so there's a possibility for collaboration between her project and, as we are going to create nomisma IDs for Republican moneyers in the coming weeks, and will certainly incorporate her URIs into our system. Day 1 included presentations and discussions by SNAP organizers as well as a selected group of participants which have either potential datasets to include in SNAP or are using tools or other methodologies for prosopographies. My presentation contained a bit of both tools/methodologies and datasets. In Day 2, the meeting participants split into smaller groups for focused break-out sessions on various topics.

In the morning, I attended a session about alternative methodologies for representing prosopographies electronically. CIDOC-CRM dominated the first half of this discussion. The SNAP RDF model may incorporate some CRM properties or classes, but is more of a hybrid between existing ontologies and one developed specifically for SNAP. In this way, the model is kept simpler, and probably makes it easier for other projects to contribute datasets, especially those projects that simply don't have the technical expertise to model everything in CRM. And let's be honest here, there are many ways to model absolutely anything in CRM. The second half of the discussed focused on the proposed architecture for SNAP. There are still some details to be worked out here, but I now have a firmer grasp of where the project is now and how it can function in the future. I believe we all want a "Pelagios for People," but realistically that is Phase II of SNAP. Pelagios functions because there is an accepted canonical thesaurus for ancient places defined by Pleiades. There is currently no such system for people, and so Phase I for SNAP is to create these URIs and establish concordances between entities in different systems, e.g., to establish that is the same entity as a URI in Maggie's Republican prosopography. Only after the SNAP URIs for people are fully functional can we begin linking these people to coins, papyri, statues, or literary works by or about them (or modern books about these people, extracted from OCLC's new linked data bibliographic catalogs). The grant funding for SNAP will establish the foundation for Phase I, and hopefully we can move on to the "Pelagios for People" in several years.

That afternoon, I attended the breakout session on SNAP data migration. Much of the session was spent taking a look at the CSV data for a few participants, and Sebastian Rahtz and Hugh Cayless lent advice on how to model these data into the SNAP RDF. I began working on the EAC-CPF-to-RDF XSLT templates for SNAP, and have implemented something very rudimentary. At the moment, xEAC supports three RDF models. A default placeholder model is available by appending '.rdf' onto the URI for an entity. This is based on a potential archival model. The other models, SNAP and CIDOC-CRM, are available through the GET API, with the "model" URL parameter determining the model that is returned ("crm" or "snap"). For example, There is still much work to do here.


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