Friday, November 4, 2011

It's all coming together at PELAGIOS

For years (over a decade in fact) we've been dreaming and talking about linking up ancient world resources on the web along the thematic axis of geography. Pleiades was launched in no small part in pursuit of that vision. And today comes more proof -- to which many can relate -- that hard work, collaboration, and openness bears really tasty fruit.
The Perseus geospatial data now includes annotations of ancient places with Pleiades URIs. Beginning next week, the Places widget in the Perseus interface will include links to download the Pleiades annotations in OAC compliant RDF format. These links will appear for any text with place entity markup which also has places from this dataset. We are also providing a link to search on the top five most frequently mentioned of these places in the Pelagios graph explorer.
(Check out the rest of the story, which provides a screenshot of the interface changes and a step-by-step description of how the work was done).

How did this come to be possible? Here's a very much abridged history:

  • Perseus built a path-breaking, web-based digital library of resources for the study of the ancient world; released a bunch of their code and content under open licenses; and managed the geographic aspects of the content as data
  • Pleiades built on and marshaled the efforts of the Classical Atlas Project, the Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization, and other collaborators to publish an ever-improving geographic dataset on the web under a permissive open license
  • Leif Isaksen, on behalf of the Google Ancient Places project, took that dataset, mashed it up with another open geographical dataset (GeoNames) and published the results (Pleiades+) under a public domain declaration (more openness).
  • The PELAGIOS team took Pleiades+ and started matching it with their data. Perseus is just the latest member of that team to do so, and there are more on the way.
The resulting interface enhancements Perseus is announcing today are just the latest visible example of how the web of people benefits from the creation and exploitation of the web of data, and it's all super-charged by openness.

I'm grateful to the hard-working folks, and the array of funding agencies and host institutions, whose commitment and support are making these dreams come true.

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