In Humanist-centric tools for Big Data: Berkeley Prosopography Services, authors Patrick Schmitz of Research IT, and Laurie Pearce of UC Berkeley's Department of Near Eastern Studies frame BPS as "a new set of tools for prosopography - the identification of individuals and study of their interactions - in support of humanities research," and note that "prosopography is an example of Big Data in the humanities, characterized not by the size of the datasets, but by the way that computational and data-driven methods can transform scholarly workflows."
Technically, Schmitz and Pearce explain that:
BPS is based upon re-usable infrastructure, supporting generalized web services for corpus management, social network analysis, and visualization. The BPS disambiguation model is a formal implementation of the traditional heuristics used by humanists, and supports plug-in rules for adaptation to a wide range of domain corpora. A workspace model supports exploratory research and collaboration.
Using the tools that constitute BPS, "researchers assert conclusions or possibilities, allowing them to override automated inference, to explore ideas in what-if scenarios, and to formally publish and subscribe-to asserted annotations among colleagues, and/or with students." The paper describes researchers' experience using BPS in the study of corpora of cuneiform tablets, as well as plans to apply to the tools to other types of textual corpora.
The authors will present their paper at the DocEng meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, to be held September 16 - 19.