A thoroughly intresting meeting last week down in Southampton as part of the AHRC-funded HESTIA 2 project. Elton Barker of the OU is leading this one and I got involved through my former colleague Stefan Buzar, now at Manchester.
In HESTIA 1 they took the Histories of Herodotus and created an interactive website where you could look at the places mentioned in the text on a map of the region and start to think about the geographic relationships within the texts. A lot of this was based on linked data principles, using different kinds of online geocoders among other things, to build the spatial relationships with the text.
The purpose of HESTIA 2 is to take the ideas developed as part of the first project and refine them and last Thursday's workshop, run by Tom Brughens was the first event in the process of doing this. It was quite a mixed, interdisciplinary audience, with mapping specialists, coders, archaeologists, ancient historians, even the odd physicist. So there were some presentations that I found truly terrifying (Maximilian Schich on Topography and Topology in network analysis for example) and others that were really fascinating if somewhat outside my area (John Goodwin from the OS talking about linked data in contemporary mapping). For me some of the most interesting things came through listening to the archaeologists from local authorities/English Heritage, thinking about how linked data practices can help join up the different data sources used when creating, for example, a Historic Environment Record (HER - the modern replacement for the old Sites & Monuments Records).
The day got me thinking about some of the work I've been doing on crowdsourced community asset mapping and whether this needs a much clearer framework using linked data principles to allow the data to be pushed in and pulled out for different needs. Hmm. Well, there is money available from the AHRC at the moment for follow up projects and lots of people at the Edinburgh Showcase event (4 July) who seemed interested. Hmm. Maybe if there were 30 hours in a day I could do more with some of these ideas...
Phil Jones is a cultural geographer based at the University of Birmingham.
Phil Jones, Geographer