Berkeley prosopography services: ancient families, modern tools

Abstract: 

In this paper, we describe Berkeley Prosopography Services (BPS), a new set of tools for prosopography - the identification of individuals and study of their interactions - in support of humanities research. The BPS tools include 1) functionality to import TEI documents and convert to our data model, 2) a disambiguation engine to associate names to persons based upon configurable heuristic rules, 3) an assertion model that supports flexible researcher curation and tracks provenance, 4) social network analysis and 5) graph visualization tools to analyze and understand social relations, and 6) a workspace model supporting exploratory research and collaboration. We contrast the BPS model that uses configurable heuristic rules to other approaches for automated text analysis, and explain how our model facilitates interpretation by humanist researchers. We describe the significance of our curation model that improves upon traditional curation and annotation as a fact-based model by adding a more flexible model in which 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. We detail the architecture and our implementation of the tools as a set of reusable web services and web application UI. We present an initial evaluation of researchers' experience using the tools to study corpora of cuneiform tablets, and describe plans to expand the application of the tools to a broader range of corpora.

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"Berkeley prosopography services: ancient families, modern tools". Patrick Schmitz and Laurie Pearce. ACM DocEng 2013 (DH-CASE '13 Workshop on Collaborative Annotations in Shared Environment), Florence, Italy; 09/2013 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2517978.2517980