Thursday 21 Aug 17:30

Semantic Technologies for Culture Heritage

Linked Data Meetup


LEVEL: Intermediate


17:30 Opening, meet and great, pizza and beer

18:00 Talk

19:00 Discussions

19:30 End


Semantic Technologies are the new Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone was key to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, by providing parallel text in three scripts: Ancient Egyptian, Demotic and Ancient Greek.

Today semantic technologies play a similar role, allowing the Digital Humanist to make connections between (and make sense of) the multitude of digitized cultural artifacts available on the net

The Digital Humanities Challenge

Today, the universitas (universe of knowledge) has become far too vast, multilayered, and complex to be contained within the walls of any single institution, even one as broadly conceived as the university. The (medieval) fiction of universal inquiry has long been belied by the reality of fields of learning restricted to a few choice areas and eras.

Digital Humanities embrace and harness the expanded, global nature of today’s research communities as one of the great multi-disciplinary and post?disciplinary opportunities of our time. It dreams of models of knowledge production and reproduction that leverage the increasingly distributed nature of expertise and knowledge, and transform this reality into occasions for scholarly innovation, disciplinary cross?fertilization, and the democratization of knowledge.

– Jeffrey Schnapp, The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0

The internet, global digitization efforts, Europe's Digital agenda, continuing investments in Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America and many other initiatives, have made millions upon millions of digitized cultural artifacts available on the net. The question is how to make sense of all this information: how to aggregate it, find connections, build narratives, analyze the data, support the scientific discourse, engage users...

From ancient maps, to bibliographic records, to paintings, to coins and hoards, to paleographic analysis, to proposography factoids, to ancient manuscripts, to video interviews of Nazi victims... everything is becoming more and more connected. A host of ontologies and metadata standards have come into existence: CIDOC CRM, TEI5, LIDO, SPECTRUM, VRA Core, MPEG7, DC, ESE and EDM, OAI ORE and PMH, the list goes on and on.

A number of established thesauri and gazetteers exist, some of them interconnected: DBPedia; VIAF, FAST, ULAN; GeoNames, Pleiades, TGN; LCSH, AAT, IconClass, Joconde, SVCN, Wordnet, etc etc. The question is how to understand their structure and relevance, and how to use them in every-day collection management, cataloging, documentation and research.

The question also is how to preserve the role of libraries, museums and other CH institutions as centers of wisdom and culture into the new millennium. Aren't Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and smart-phone apps becoming the new centers of research and culture (or popular culture at least)?

We believe the answers to all these questions lie with Semantic Technologies.

Today, semantic technologies play a similar role to the Rosetta Stone, allowing the Digital Humanist to make connections between (and indeed make sense of) the multitude of digitized cultural artifacts available on the net.

An upsurge of interest in semantic technologies has swept the digital humanities community. Meetups and summits, conferences and un-conferences, residences and hackathons are happening weekly. Cultural heritage institutions are collaborating actively. Established institutions form branches that sound like web startups or Wikipedia offsprings (e.g. British Library Labs; Smithsonian Web-strategy and Smithsonian Commons; National Archives department of Web Continuity)

You could also use the first page from our CH brochure as an image, and link to the brochure here:


Vladimir Alexiev, PhD, PMP Lead, Data and Ontology Management Group Ontotext Corp.

Vladimir Alexiev has a PhD in computing science from University of Alberta, MS in computer science from Technical University of Sofia, PMP certification, Project Risk and Quality Management diploma. He has 25 years of IT experience, of which 15 years of IT PM experience and 4 years of experience with semantic technologies. He is one of the founders of Sirma Group Holding, the largest Bulgarian IT group, and the parent company of Ontotext. He is a Masters-level lecturer in IT PM at New Bulgarian University.

His xperience includes ontology engineering, metadata standards, vocabularies and thesauri, RDF, RDFS, OWL2, SKOS, SPARQL, Linked Open Data, mapping, ETL, semantic web applications, project management, business analysis and requirements specifications. He has worked in various business domains, from Customs and Excise, to Personal Finance workflows, to Legal Procedures and Statistics, to Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities.

In Ontotext he leads the Data and Ontology Management (DOM) group, where he works on a wide range of projects related to cultural heritage, libraries, CIDOC CRM, Europeana, linked open data management, etc. He served in Europeana task forces on EDM-FRBRoo Application Profile and Multilingual Enrichment Strategy. He has contributed to the ontology definition of the ISO 25964 standard for thesauri management and is currently working on publishing important CH thesauri to LOD. He has particular interest in the faithful representation of humanities data (museum, library, archaeology, medieval studies, etc), CIDOC CRM and its extensions, practical applications with such data.

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