Tag Archives: network

Hestia 2 seminar – GSTAR presentation

I gave a talk on my PhD research (the GSTAR project) at the Hestia 2 event in Southampton last Thursday. Given I am still early on in the process, and having been asked to relate my work to the world of commercial archaeology, I decided to follow an overview of my research with some ideas for the future and how Linked Data approaches could be used to overhaul the (painful and convoluted) ways we manage heritage data in the UK.

The talk will soon be up on the project webpages and the slides are presented below via Slideshare. There are some great write ups of the day over on the Hestia webpages.

 

In the questions and discussion afterwards, a couple of topics that have presented before came up. Firstly, the idea that the CIDOC CRM and derivatives such as CRM EH are unnecessarily complicated. Secondly, the idea that this serves no useful purpose as very few people, if anyone at all, will be interested in using the richness contained therein.

Complicated and Complex

The first issue is one I have written up in my literature review but in one which requires further investigation. Ontologies such as the CIDOC CRM are indeed complicated and I have been quoted as describing working with them as ‘difficult’ (eg Isaksen, 2011). I do still think though that such approaches are unavoidable to adequately represent the complexity of heritage data. A major criticism of computational approaches in archaeology going back some decades was the idea that they are inherently reductionist; to fall back to overly simplistic data models has the potential to fall foul of the same problems inherent in what are now seen as legacy information systems, but in their day were equally as cutting edge as Linked Data approaches are today. There is a big difference between complex and complicated (see eg Kamensky, 2011) and the latter is sometimes essential to describe the former.

Complexity by versionz

Complexity by versionz

CIDOC CRM and extensions such as CRM EH can be described as complicated but working with them is quite straightforward once the class structure is understood. Especially the ability to create and use patterns, re-useable blocks which can easily be recycled. And the benefits of using such a rich model to describe complex scenarios far outweighs any disadvantages associated with complicated models and/or implementation difficulties. After all, the world both now and in the past is/was a complex place!

As an example, let’s look at the relationship between a find and the stratigraphic unit in which it was found. In CRM EH terms, we would start with a production event which would create the object and ultimately some kind of deposition event resulting in the find coming to rest in the location where it is ultimately found by an archaeologist through excavation or by a member of the public through a casual find or metal detecting or however.

A much simpler model would simply record a bunch of attributes against a find, a data-centric view of the world of data of the kind prevalent in relational systems modelled using eg entity-relationship type approaches. Taking classifications of finds in particular, this simple approach is problematic as without any explicit recording of the process of an archaeologist making assertions about a find in order to classify using some typology, the semantics of the archaeological process are lost and the real semantic benefits of Linked Data approaches are not realised. We end up with the same simplistic, ‘perfect’, idealised record of reality commonly found in many archaeological information systems.

Users…?

Audience? by orkomedix

Audience? by orkomedix

The notion that there is little audience for richer data models and resources has cropped up in numerous seminars, workshops and conference sessions I have attended and participated in. It is certainly true that many resources to date have not captured the richness of archaeological data and as such it is generally impossible to know why a find was classified in a particular way or which strands of evidence were used in the creation of the overall published narrative. But that is not to suggest that if our data models become more descriptive, this data will not be used. I have had equally as many if not more discussions of potential and desirable use cases for ways in which we can do more with such resources. Everything from better understandings of the archaeological process to tie research frameworks to fieldwork to synthesis in more meaningful ways through to managing change and the propagation of paradigm shifts such as revised typologies through to fieldwork datasets and heritage inventories. Knowing how we come to form then manage our shared knowledge base in the digital world is essential, given the highly theoretical, subjective, multi-vocal and often contradictory nature of archaeological discourse and scholarship.

Where next…?

Taking this to a logical progression would involve some implementation of working archaeological information systems incorporating some of these principals. So for example, moving to a situation where HERs become responsible solely for their own data, as does English Heritage, all of whom publish rich Linked Data which together forms a coherent, national record but without the current resource hungry problems relating to transfer and interchange of data and the all the redundancy, duplication and inconsistency that entails. For a fuller discussion of these themes, see Cripps, 2013.

So I think my research area has a good deal of promise and I hope to be able to demonstrate some practical outputs over the coming months. I will blog here as I go along. Do check back for updates.

References:

Cripps, Paul. 2013. “Places, People, Events and Stuff; Building Blocks for Archaeological Information Systems.” In Proceedings of the Computer Applications in Archaeology Conference, 2012.

Isaksen, Leif. 2011. “Archaeology and the Semantic Web.” PhD Thesis.

Kamensky, John. 2011. “Managing the complicated vs the Complex”. IBM Center for the Business of Government.

HESTIA2 – registration now open!

Archaeogeomancy: Digital Heritage Specialists - archaeological geomatics - the majick of spatial data in archaeology - archaeological information systems for the digital age:

Herodotus by Skara Kommun

Herodotus by Skara Kommun

Following on from the last post on this conference, the programme is now published and registration open.

I will be speaking about geosemantic technologies in archaeology and my GSTAR research, the abstract is as follows:

The semantics of heritage data is a growing area of interest with ontologies such as the CIDOC-CRM providing semantic frameworks and exemplary projects such as STAR and STELLAR demonstrating what can be done using semantic technologies applied to archaeological resources. In the world of the Semantic Web, advances regarding geosemantics have emerged to extend research more fully into the spatio-temporal domain, for example extending the SPARQL standard to produce GeoSPARQL. Importantly, the use of semantic technologies, particularly the structure of RDF, aligns with graph and network based approaches, providing a rich fusion of techniques for geospatial analysis of heritage data expressed in such a manner.

This paper will give an overview of the ongoing G-STAR research project (GeoSemantic Technologies for Archaeological Resources) with reference to broader sectoral links particularly to commercial archaeology.

Specifically, focus will be applied to approaches regarding the integration of spatial data into the heritage Global Graph and the relationship between Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and Linked Data, moving beyond notions of ‘location’ as simple nodes, placenames and coordinates towards fuller support for complex geometries and advanced spatial reasoning.

Finally, the potential impacts of such research will be discussed with particular reference to the current practice of commercial archaeology, access to and publishing of (legacy, big) data, and leveraging network models to better understand and manage change within archaeological information systems.

See the conference website for full details and the calendar entry for when/where. Registration is free but tickets need to be booked in advance. Early registration is advised due to limited places.

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HESTIA2: Exploring spatial networks through ancient sources

Archaeogeomancy: Digital Heritage Specialists - archaeological geomatics - the majick of spatial data in archaeology - archaeological information systems for the digital age:

Herodotus

Herodotus

The Hestia2 project is described as “a public engagement project that aims to cross boundaries between the academic, commercial and educational sectors“.

As part of this, a free one-day seminar is taking place on 18th July organised by Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovski, Leif Isaksen and Tom Brughmans and in collaboration with The Connected Past.

The call for papers is as follows:

A free one-day seminar on spatial network analysis in archaeology, history, classics, teaching and commercial archaeology.

Spatial relationships are everywhere in our sources about the past: from the ancient roads that  connect cities, or ancient authors mentioning political alliances between places, to the stratigraphic contexts archaeologists deal with in their fieldwork. However, as datasets about the past become increasingly large, these spatial networks become ever more difficult to disentangle. Network techniques allow us to address such spatial relationships explicitly and directly through network visualisation and analysis. This seminar aims to explore the potential of such innovative techniques for research, public engagement and commercial purposes.

The seminar is part of Hestia2, a public engagement project aimed at introducing a series of conceptual and practical innovations to the spatial reading and visualisation of texts. Following on from the AHRC-funded “Network, Relation, Flow: Imaginations of Space in Herodotus’s Histories” (the Hestia project), Hestia2 represents a deliberate shift from experimenting with geospatial analysis of a single text to making Hestia’s outcomes available to new audiences and widely applicable to other texts through a seminar series, online platform, blog and learning materials with the purpose of fostering knowledge exchange between researchers and non-academics, and generating public interest and engagement in this field.

For this first Hestia2 workshop we welcome contributions addressing any of (but not restricted to) the following themes:

  • Spatial network analysis techniques
  • Spatial networks in archaeology, history and classics
  • Techniques for the discovery and analysis of networks from textual sources
  • Exploring spatial relationships in classical and archaeological sources
  • The use of network visualisations and linked datasets for archaeologists active in the commercial sector and teachers
  • Applications of network analysis in archaeology, history and classics

See the calendar entry for details of the venue and how to submit abstracts of up to 250 words.

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