MEDEA (Modeling Semantically Enhanced Digital Edition of Accounts) as Historical Method

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 3:30 PM
Mile High Ballroom 2C (Colorado Convention Center)
Kathryn Tomasek, Wheaton College
Through MEDEA historians in Germany, Austria, and the United States collaborate in developing models for transcription and markup of account books for comparative historical analysis. Each of the three principal investigators has research questions that have led them to consider the potential of digital scholarly editions of historical accounts in the context of the Semantic Web and Linked Open Data. Over the past year we have focused particularly on developing an ontology to describe the human interactions involved in the transfers of goods, services, and currencies recorded in personal, business, and government accounts produced from the ancient world to the present. An example of methodological development focused on producing data optimized for the Semantic Web, MEDEA demonstrates how the technologies of the Internet and the WorldWideWeb differ from those employed by the sampling and applications that have been used in social science history since the second half of the twentieth century. Semantic Web technologies are grounded in a different set of mathematical principles focused on graph theories, which give historians opportunities to explore relationships as networks. Digital methods are unlikely to displace earlier quantitative methods any more than those methods displaced narrative fifty years ago.
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