While the main business of the Network is conducted through regular Activity meetings, Pelagios is more than just about growing a community that can offer consultancy and support. Fundamentally, Pelagios is also about developing methods and tools that lower technical barriers and allow humanities and cultural heritage practitioners to work more effectively together in evolving the LOD ecosystem. This works not through any core funding but through the Network’s scaffolding of distributive resilience. In this new model of development, individual sources of funding, often very small, are pooled together to build on existing methods and tools, in order to meet the evolving needs of the community as a whole. This model both addresses the sustainability challenges inherent to dependency on a single source of funding or institutional support, and attempts to avoid reduplication of efforts and resources.
Working with international collaborators, Pelagios has co-created a lightweight but universally applicable method of linking online materials of different types (texts, images, databases), which are hosted by different global data providers. The method used is the annotation of place references. Instead of compelling everyone to remodel their data according to a single overarching ontology (such as the CIDOC-CRM), the Pelagios method simply states that each data publisher identifies the places mentioned in their data and then align those references to the appropriate record in a global authority of place information — a unique and stable record or Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). By means of annotating place references with gazetteer URIs, resources hosted by different data providers become machine readable, meaning that they are more discoverable, reusable, and interoperable.
The Pelagios method for creating semantic annotations is based on the W3C Web Annotation Data Model. This specification describes a structured model and format to enable annotations to be shared and reused across different hardware and software platforms. In addition, Pelagios Partners have developed the following:
With its previous community grants (2017-2019), and now through its Activities, Pelagios is also supporting working groups for developing standards for shared conceptual elements that underlie humanistic disciplines and cultural heritage, e.g.:
As teaching, research and curation pivot online, a number of challenges need to be addressed that cut across humanities domains and cultural heritage institutions — namely disciplinary and organisational division, the fragmentation of sources, and different data standards. While the Pelagios method for linking data is simple enough for anyone to understand, to actually produce LOD still requires technical expertise. To address this challenge and lower the technological barrier to teachers, researchers and curators, Pelagios is supporting the development of a range of open-source tools that are freely available, easy to use, and provide solutions to shared needs/challenges. Co-created with international partners, these tools map onto the Network’s Activities:
These tools, built for easy use within a range of communities (from academic research and teaching to cultural heritage management and public outreach), are developed and sustained through Pelagios’s model of distributive resilience. Each tool addresses the challenges of sustainability and interoperability across domains and use-cases by focusing on core components within a modular framework to allow customization. To define the roadmap that informs the core and modular elements, the Network facilitates Partner collaboration which takes the form of contributing ideas and resources (funding, time). If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us: email@example.com or head directly to each of the developers listed below:
For more information about the origins of Pelagios and its development into a Network Association, you can read our special issue in the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing.