• Annotation and Ontology in most Humanities research: accommodating a more informal interpretation context

    John Bradley (see profile) , Michele Pasin
    Digital humanities, Research, Methodology
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    NeDiMAH WG3 Workshop: Ontology based annotation
    Conf. Org.:
    University of Hamburg
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    17th July 2012
    Digital Ontologies, Digital humanities research and methodology
    Permanent URL:
    The emergence of formal ontologies into the World Wide Web has had a profound effect on research in certain fields: in the Life Sciences, for example. We will call the activity of linking references in a domain literature directly to entities in one or more domain ontologies "direct semantic annotation". Although direct semantic annotation to a pre-existing formal data model may be a key activity in some projects, in general scholarship in the Humanities is not centered on this kind of labelling activity at all. Instead, almost all humanities scholars spend their time developing their own original interpretation of the materials they study, and aim to explore new concepts and paradigms about them which they present in their articles and books. The scholarship does not start out with predefined formal structures, but begins with a set of vague notions and insights in the scholar's mind as they read that only over time emerge clearly enough to be described in published work. Indeed, many in the humanities believe that clear, classical, thinking of the kind that is compatible with computer ontologies is incompatible with the kinds of things they want to say. Pliny's data model is strongly suggestive of RDF and other base ontological technologies. However, Pliny's paradigm is one that, unlike direct semantic annotation, separates the annotation of the domain literature from the highly formal world of domain ontologies by injecting a personal interpretative component in-between. This personal interpretation "cloud" might well never be a clear-cut as formal ontologies must be, but it's presence here recognises and enables the existance of a process towards formality that is a central part of interpretation in humanities scholarship. In this way, Pliny provides an approach that, over time, encourages the researcher to turn this cloud of personal interpretation into material that becomes more and more compatible with computer ontologies and the semantic web.
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


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