Presentation on theme: "Facets and structured research data in the Digital Humanities"— Presentation transcript:
1 Facets and structured research data in the Digital Humanities Annual Bliss Classification Association Lecture 19 April 2013Facets and structured research data in the Digital HumanitiesJohn Bradley and Michele Pasin
2 Annual Bliss Classification Association Lecture 19 April 2013 Facetted modelling in the dynamic world of structured humanities scholarshipJohn Bradley
3 Structured Data DDH projects Bpi1700: (British Printed Images before 1700)CVMA: (Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi—Medieval stained glass)PBE: Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire (published on CD)PBW: Prosopography of the Byzantine WorldPASE: (Prosopography of Anglo-saxon England)CCEd: Clergy of the Church of England:EMLoT: Early Modern London Theatres:DIAMM: Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music:OCVE: Online Chopin Variorum Edition:PoMS: Paradox of Medieval Scotland:Art of Making:Records of Early English DramaThe Making of Charlemagne’s EuropeThe Breaking of Britain
4 Text in, Text out Source Source Primary Sources Historical Research ArticleBook / ArticleSourceSecond’ry Source“the historical work as what it most manifestly is: a verbal structure in the form of a narrative prose discourse” Hayden White (1973), quoted in Jörn Rüsen (1987). “Historical Narration: Foundation, Types, Reason” in History and Theory Vol 26 No 4
5 Historians and narrative text “Multiplicity is inherent in the word-narratives used to communicate history. Words are complex forms of information; they have 'halos of meaning', making them wonderfully evocative but imprecise and slippery. [...] Historians embrace this range of meanings. We prefer the medium of words and narratives because it permits us to represent the past as multidimensional, complex, and nonlinear, even though structurally our prose and our logic are sequential.”David J. Bodenhamer (2008), "History and GIS: Implications for the Discipline", in Anne Kelly Knowles (ed.) (2008). Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and the GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship. Redlands, CA: ESRI Press. p. 224
6 Structured Data: Appropriate to the Humanities? “humanistic inquiry reveals itself as an activity fundamentally dependent upon the location of pattern.”“Of all the technologies in use among computing humanists, databases are perhaps the best suited to facilitating and exploiting [pattern].”“To build a database one must be willing to move from the forest to the trees and back again; to use a database is to reap the benefits of the enhanced vision which the system affords.”Stephen Ramsay (2004). “Databases” in A Companion to Digital Humanities”.
7 Appropriate to the Humanities? the underlying ontology [that a database represents] has considerable intellectual value.A well-designed database that contains information about people, buildings, and events in New York City contains not static information, but an entire set of ontological relations capable of generating statements about a domain.A truly relational database, in other words, contains not merely "Central Park", "Frederick Law Olmstead", and "1857", but a far more suggestive string of logical relationships (e.g., "Frederick Law Olmstead submitted his design for Central Park in New York during 1857").(from Steven Ramsay, “Databases” in A Companion to Digital Humanities”)
8 Data, Structure, Interpretation "There can be no data without structure, and all structure is interface, whether we view it as a screen appearance or not. [...] Even more importantly, all interfaces—visible as well as invisible—are interpretational forms."(McGann, Jerome (2010). "Sustainability: The Elephant in the Room". In Online Humanities Scholarship: The Shape of Things to Come. Houston Texas: Rice University Press)
9 Three example projects BPI1700: British Printed Images before 1700EMLoT: Early Modern London TheatresPASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
10 bpi1700“This website, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, makes available a database of thousands of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain in fully-searchable form.” (from bpi1700 webpage)Online version gives free access to all these images
11 Purpose behind bpi1700“Printed images are striking and revealing, potentially serving a wide range of illustrative and interpretative uses. They range from high art to crude satire, and significant conclusions can be drawn from their circulation and consumption about the culture of their period. Yet they are surprisingly little used by researchers, partly because they are currently difficult to access. This project seeks to rectify this by making a comprehensive collection of early modern British prints available online, and by promoting research on their relationship to their milieu.” (proposal to the AHRC)
14 Bpi1700 DB structure overview PersonAppears inWorkProducerCreated byRepresented inSubjectHas theseRole in productionStateProducer TypeCreated usingTechniqueEvidenced byImpressionOther dataFRBR?
15 The “real” DB structure Impression data: from Merlin and the V&ABpi1700 added value: Works and subject index
16 Early Modern London Theatres Transmission and understanding: “Most of what we know about the early London theatres, which developed before, during and shortly after the life of Shakespeare, has been passed down to us through a complex process of filtration. Documents written at the time have been selected, copied, adapted, and interpreted over subsequent centuries, and that process has shaped our understanding. In turn, what we do with this received information will determine how future generations view the early theatres.”"EMLoT lets you see what direct use has been made, over the last four centuries, of pre-1642 documents related to professional performance in purpose-built theatres and other permanent structures in the London area. [...] It tells you who used them, and when, and where you can find evidence of that use. It also gives you some access to what was used, because it includes a brief account (or ‘abstract’) of the transcription’s contents, together with a reference to the location of the original document.“ (from the EMLoT website)
17 Elements of the EMLoT structure playhouse context court case playhouse business payment player context[...]Source2ndary SourceEvent TypePrimary SourceTranscriptionDocumentRecordEventAuspicesTroupeVenuePrivy Council Office of the Revels Court of Requests Lord Chamberlain’s Office[...]Admiral’s Men Queen’s Men Worchester’s Men King’s Men Oxford’s Boys[...]Globe Theatre Fortune Blackfriars Bel Savage Boar’s Heads[...]
18 Structured Prosopographical projects PBE: Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire (published on CD)PBW: Prosopography of the Byzantine WorldPASE: (Prosopography of Anglo-saxon England)CCEd: Clergy of the Church of England:Breaking of BritainPoMS: Paradox of Medieval Scotland:PoNE: People of Northern England DatabaseThe Making of Charlemagne’s Europe
19 A “Source Assertion”An assertion made by the project team that a source "S" at reference “R" states something ("F") about a person or persons ("P")
23 Facetted Thinking and structure Facetted Classification:An approach to organise a body of materials using facetted principles.Facetted Browsing:The exploiting of facets to facilitate the exploration of a body of materials.
24 Facetted Browsing Principles "Remember the purpose of the classification and the users. Who will use it? Why? Will they search it, browse it, or both? How well do they know the subject? Always remember it is meant for them to use.“Denton 2003: “How to make a Facet Classification and put it on the Web” referencing Kwasnick, Barbara H The role of classification in knowledge representation and discovery. Library Trends 48 (1):
25 Faceted classification: advantages "Kwasnick (1999, 40-42) lists several things in favour of faceted classifications: they do not require complete knowledge of the entities or their relationships; they are hospitable (can accommodate new entities easily); they are flexible; they are expressive; they can be ad hoc and free-form; and they allow many different perspectives on and approaches to the things classified.“Denton 2003.
26 Searching the Clergy of the Church of England database
27 WWW Facetted browsing principles The user should not be able to form a query that is known to have no results.Users must always know where they are in the classificationUsers must always be able to refine their query or adjust their navigation to see what is nearby in the classificationThe URL is the notation of the classification.Denton 2003
28 Facetted Browsing in bpi1700 FacetsSelected Works
33 Faceted classification: problems "She [Kwasnick 1999] lists three major problems: the difficulty of choosing the right facets; the lack of the ability to express the relationships between them; and the difficulty of visualizing it all.”Denton 2003
34 Metadata Definition: Metadata and Dublin Core “Metadata is sometimes defined literally as 'data about data,' but the term is normally understood to mean structured data about resources that can be used to help support a wide range of operations.”(UKOLN (2001): “Metadata in a nutshell”(Metadata and Dublin Core“Perhaps the most well-known metadata initiative is the Dublin Core.” (UKOLN 2001)
35 DC: The fifteen elements From Weibel, Stuart (2007), Dublin Core Metadata Tutorial. OCLC Research
36 DC (Metadata) base syntax impliedverbone of 15propertiesproperty value(an appropriateliteral)DC:CreatorDC:TitleDC:SubjectDC:Date...impliedsubjectResourcehaspropertyXqualifiers(adjectives)[optional qualifier][optional qualifier]From Weibel, Stuart (2007), Dublin Core Metadata Tutorial. OCLC Research
37 Resource has Subject "Languages -- Grammar" Resource has Date LCSHResourcehasDate" "ISO8601RevisedFrom Weibel, Stuart (2007), Dublin Core Metadata Tutorial. OCLC Research
38 DC.Creator: Alan Kelsey DC.Creator: Alan KelseyDC.Subject: Dublin Core Meta TagsDC.Format: text/htmlDC.Publisher: Alan Kelsey, Ltd.DC.Date:DC.Coverage: Hennepin Technical CollegeDC.Language: ENDC.Rights: Copyright 2011, ...
39 Metadata: a “world view” of structure ResourcesMetadataMetadata: two kinds of data:Resource: The object being classifiedMetadata: The classification dataClassification data could be used as facetsDoes this rather “flat” model suit our purposes?
40 BLISS: BC2 standard facets "These fundamental thirteen categories have been found to be sufficient for the analysis of vocabulary in almost all areas on knowledge. It is however quite likely that other general categories exist; it is certainly the case that there are some domain specific categories, such as those of form and genre in the field of literature" (pp 79-80).Vanda Broughton (2001): Faceted classification as a basis for knowledge organization in a digital environment; the Bliss Bibliographic Classification as a model for vocabulary management and the creation of multidimensional knowledge structures, New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 7:1,thing/entitykindpartpropertymaterialprocessoperationpatientproductby-productagentspacetimeVickery (1959) observed that fundamental categories reflect an Indian worldview that differsfrom the Western, or Aristotelian notion of basic categories. Aristotle’s fundamental categories:thing, kind, part, property, material, process, operation, agent, patient, product, by-product,space and time represent a ‘standard set’ of useful descriptive categories for science andtechnical subjects but are often unsuitable for humanities subjects (Vickery, 1959). La Barre “Traditions of facet theory, or a garden of forking paths?”. ISKOUK conference 2011.“BC2 makes an excellent starting point for thinking of how to make a faceted classification. Its facets can be renamed and adapted to suit your particular circumstances.” (Denton 2008)
41 Modelling: elements of the EMLoT structure playhouse context court case playhouse business payment player context[...]Source2ndary SourceEvent TypePrimary SourceTranscriptionDocumentRecordEventAuspicesTroupeVenuePrivy Council Office of the Revels Court of Requests Lord Chamberlain’s Office[...]Admiral’s Men Queen’s Men Worchester’s Men King’s Men Oxford’s Boys[...]Globe Theatre Fortune Blackfriars Bel Savage Boar’s Heads[...]
42 Modelling"In terms of humanities computing, modelling is an iterative process of constructing and developing something like a computational 'knowledge representation' as this is defined in computer science. In fact we might say that a model is a manipulable knowledge representation.”Willard McCarty “Humanities Computing: Essential Problems, Experimental Practice” in Literary and Linguistic Computing Vol 17 No 1. pp
43 Analytical Modelling: the utility of failure "the digital model illumines analytically by isolating what would not compute. In other words, the failures of analytic modelling are where its success is to be found.”Willard McCarty (2008). “What’s going on?” in Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol 23 No 3. p. 256
44 Structure as a scholarly outcome, and its public presentation The tension between that and the need for a public face to the project.Classification: “user focus”: focus on universal structureModelling Scholarly structure: “scholar focus”: focus on individual scholarly exploration and assertion
46 Spiteri 1998: CRG Principles: Fundamental Categories g) Fundamental Categories: "there exist no categories that are fundamental to all subjects, and ... categories should be derived based upon the nature of the subject being classified" (pp 18-19)Spiteri, Louise. (1998). “A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis”. Now online at
47 Spiteri 1998: CRG Principles: Relevance b) Relevance: "when choosing facets by which to divide entities, it is important to make sure that the facets reflect the purpose, subject, and scope of the classification system" (1998, 6).
48 Spiteri 1998: CRG (Classification Research Group) Principles: Differentiation a) Differentiation: "when dividing an entity into its component parts, it is important to use characteristics of division (i.e., facets) that will distinguish clearly among these component parts" (Spiteri 1998, 5). For example, dividing humans by sex.
49 Structured data requires clear categories: authority lists Authority lists provide a classification mechanismCaseType (PoNE)idtype29agreement64appeal of breach of peace63appeal of homicide28assize of last presentation (darrein presentm1assize of mort d'ancestor45assize of novel disseisin14deforcement52grand assize37last presentation (darrein presentment)38mort d'ancestor2novel disseisin59plea de namio vetito47plea in ecclesiastical court25plea of acquittal7plea of advowson18plea of agreement27plea of an extent42plea of appeal62plea of breach of peace8plea of charter-warrant56plea of death5plea of debt21plea of detention23plea of disseisin10plea of dower22plea of ejection31plea of false judgment58plea of false testimonyalGenderKeyalGenderalGenderAbrv12(Other)3MaleM4FemaleF5InstitutionInst6M/F7Undefined(Undefined)alOfficeTermKeyalOfficeTerm12(Other)3King4Secundarius5Judge6Pincerna7Comes8Pope9Queen10Bishop11Counsellor12Abbess13Archbishop14Dux15Priest16Minister17Fasellus18Princeps19Cleric[...]
50 Spiteri 1998: CRG Principles: Ascertainability c) Ascertainability: "it is important to choose facets that are definite and can be ascertained" (1998, 6).
52 Spiteri 1998: CRG Principles: Homogeneity & Mutual Exclusivity e) Homogeneity: "facets must be homogeneous" (1998, 18).f) Mutual Exclusivity: facets must be "mutually exclusive," "each facet must represent only one characteristic of division" (1998, 18).“i.e., that the contents any two facets cannot overlap, and that each facet must represent only one characteristic of division.”
56 Revised event types (PASE II) Acts of crime, law-breaking/violenceHostility, Burh-abandonment, Lust, Disobedience, Burning, Insulting ...Legal/governmental/administrative acts and legitimate use of violenceLegal/governmental/administrative actsChallenge, Archiepiscopal see: restoration, Property-given/selling ...Legitimate use of violenceImprisonment, Execution, Campaigning, War, Outlawing ...Life-events/social and economic acts and relationsLife EventsRetirement, Journey, Naming, Betrothal, Marriage, Birth ...Social/economic acts and relationsVisit, Promise, Begging, Ship-buiding, Slave-selling, Godparenting ...Power-taking and power-leavingPolitical ActsConquest, Agreement, Throne-sitting, Message-sending ...Taking/leaving powerAppointment of abbot, royal insignia-entrusting, Coronation, Deposition of bishop, ...Religious/ecclesiastical actsActs of Christian pietyCommemoration of the dead, Martyrdom, Church going, Easter-observance, Confession ...Acts of ecclesiastical authorityBaptism, Confraternity, Tonsuring, Liturgical celebration, Ecclesiastical reform, Mission sending ...
57 ConclusionsFacetted thinking in our structured projects arises out of an exploratory and somewhat dynamic modelling rather than classification activity.It provides a way for the public to have better access to a data structure that emerges from the project team’s emerging and shifting understanding and interests in their data.It has to fit with a model of data that has a mix of different entity types and no specific entity centre.It has to fit with a model that is subject to change and evolutionAlthough facetted representation of our models is not a perfect fit with their nature, it has allowed for a browsing view of the data that enables the public to engage much better with the complexities of these project’s materials.