UPDATED 4 March 2016: Followers of the ISAW News Blog will have seen the recent piece on the award of an NEH grant for new work on the Pleiades gazetteer and the follow-up piece about my intended participation at a meeting of similarly funded project directors. NEH's Office of Digital Humanities
intends to has posted video of all the talks online on YouTube. You can drop into my 3 minutes, starting at 16:01:10 , but meantime Or, if you'd prefer to read rather than listen, here are words I read and the slides I showed during the 3 minutes allotted to my "lightning talk".
Slides are at Slideshare.
I am here today as a representative of the Pleiades community, an international group of volunteers who build and maintain the most comprehensive geospatial dataset for antiquity available today. Like many people in this room, we believe that the study of the past is a fundamental aspect of the Humanities endeavor. It's essential to understanding what it means to be human today, and to envisioning how we might be better humans in the future. Our collective past is geographically entangled: "where" is the stage on which the human drama is played, and it's an important analytical variable in every field of the past-oriented Humanities: history, archaeology, linguistics, text analysis, and so on. We also believe that the places and spaces known to and inhabited by our ancestors are the precious and fragile property of every person alive today, no matter whether we can still see and touch that heritage, or only just imagine it.
So, scholars, students, and the public need free and open data about their ancient geography. They need it in order to learn about the past, to advance research, and to inform conservation. They also need it to connect digital images, texts, and other information across the web, regardless of where that information is created or hosted. Unsurprisingly, these same individuals have the collective skill and energy necessary to create and improve geographic information, if only we can put good tools in their hands.
That's what Pleiades does. It combines web-enabled public participation with peer review and editorial oversight in order to identify and describe ancient places and spaces. It continuously enables and draws upon the work of individuals, groups, and their computational agents as a core component of a growing, public scholarly communications network.
And now, thanks to the Endowment, its reviewers, and the National Humanities Council, we have the opportunity to supercharge that network. Responding to recent adjustments in the guidelines for the digital humanities implementation grants, we requested funds to retool Pleiades. A decade of growth and diversification has left our web application underpowered and unreliable even as more users and external projects look to Pleiades as a source of information and a venue for publication. We need more power to address the most urgent needs articulated by the community: accelerated content creation and review, faster dissemination and discovery, display support for phones and tablets, expanded spatial and temporal coverage, flexible modeling of spatial relationships, comprehensive and customized access and preservation.
Thanks to NEH, we can continue going where no daughters of Atlas have gone before!