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Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative

Hosted and administered by the Department of Anthropology in partnership with MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University, The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative is a platform for interdisciplinary scholarly collaboration in the domain of digital cultural heritage. In addition, the initiative strives to equip students with the methodological skills necessary to creatively apply information, communication, and computing technology to cultural heritage materials, questions, and challenges. 

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from the Cultural Heritage Informatics blog:

Visualizing RDF triples in an engaging way

April 22, 2017 | nelso663 The application that has taken shape since the beginning of the CHI fellowship executes queries against the British Museum's (BM) SPARQL endpoint. The BM system returns results serialized as XML- or JSON-LD. The application updates its data store (Redux) and renders the collection of results as a simple list. This is straightforward enough. On the other hand, I've had to think a bit more about how to render single query results in response to user selection of any given list item. The basic data structure in semantic web technologies is the Resource Description Framework (RDF) triple. The triple is itself a graph, expressing a subject and an object's relationship through a predicate. The Rosetta Stone, for instance, appears as a subject in ~180 statements. Given the centrality of the RDF triple in semantic web systems, it's no surprise that a common way to represent the resource interrelationships expressed in these triples is by showing networks of nodes and edges; subjects and objects as nodes, predicates as the edges connecting them. This seems the most intuitive way to render single BM collection objects. RDF and the Resource Description Framework Schema (RDFS) are fundamental to the semantic web technology stack as it's developed in the past two decades. RDFS extends the constructs defined in the RDF specification to enable kinds of expressions like generalization. While RDF does allow for classification (instance-class relationships) with the instanceOf property, the RDFS extends the framework to allow for the expression of constructs like generalization hierarchies, where a class relates to another class as its sub- or superclass, with the subClassOf and subPropertyOf properties. For an RDFS model (e.g., each version of CIDOC-CRM), implementation in the Web Ontology Language (OWL - another important technology in the semantic web stack) adds formal logic to the model and thus enables automated reasoning with it. I'm working on using these technologies to enrich what are otherwise pretty boring network visualizations. The project is a good example of visualizing data structured as RDF triples in a compelling way.

Current and Recent CHI Projects

Shakespeare’s Shadows

In the late 1500’s-early 1600’s, England experienced an explosion of plays written, performed, and attended. Concurrently, England witnessed an influx in the publication of artistic manuals.

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Wheelwomen at Work

Wheelwomen at Work: Mapping Women's Involvement in the Nineteenth-Century Bicycle Industry is a digital heritage project which documents the diverse ways American women engaged in the bicycle industry as inventors, factory workers, saleswomen and mechanics from 1889 to 1900. Read More

The Saharan World at a Glance (SWAG)

The Saharan World at a Glance (SWAG) is a mobile-first digital text book. The site was designed specifically with incoming undergraduate students in mind. The site’s content is framed around the Saharan World: the North African coast, the Sahara, and the Sahel.

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Mortuary Mapping

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Historic Cemetery was re-discovered in 2012 due to construction related to expansion and seismic retrofitting at the west end of the hospital property.

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