Different types of SNAP partner projects

Broadly speaking, there are three categories of project that deal with ancient person or name data which we would like to see collaborating with SNAP:DRGN. For the sake of argument I’ll call these “prosopographies”, “person and name authorities” and “digital editions containing named entities.”

1. Prosopographies

This category of database is the full prosopographical resource: each person entry includes bibliographical and at least some biographical information, along with date, titles, relationships, perhaps “factoids” and other information. This is almost certainly a superset of the information that SNAP RDF will capture, and linking back to the prosopographical  database from SNAP wil be essential to give users access to the full data. (This is standard SNAP practice anyway, but in this case it’s more than just polite, it’s a sine qua non.) The person-records in a “prosopography” are considered to be normalized and disambiguated to a high scholarly standard, with a named and dated authority, and clearly stated principles.

The overlap between any two prosopographies is likely to be very small, by the nature of the division of work in the discipline.

2. Person and name authorities

An authority list of names or persons, on the other hand, might be a controlled vocabulary of ancient authors from a library catalogue, or list of all attested names in an epigraphic corpus. These are expected to be disambiguated and curated, but may not have detailed scholarly apparatus of any kind. They are also unlikely to contain biographical information, and may contain no more than unique identifier plus one form of a name. A list of names, on the other hand, may not disambiguate persons at all, but merely list all attestations in a corpus, even if the same person is mentioned many times. There may be some normalization of names, and to be useful at very least a list of bibliographical attestations would be desirable.

The overlap between any two library catalogues is likely to be very large, but the overlap between a list of ancient authors and a “prosopography” is probably small.

3. Digital editions containing named entities

These sources will probably not in the first instance disambiguate persons or names at all, and rather than contributing new person records to SNAP, it is more likely that they will take advantage of the person authority list by using SNAP identifiers to disambiguate person references in their texts or data. There are a few ways to do this, for example:

a. In a database field: a dataset listing, for example, issuers of coin mints or individual potters, might link from their person fields to the SNAP identifier of that person.

b. In an XML tag: a text mentioning persons might use a TEI element and attribute to point to the SNAP identifier of the persons referred to (either directly or via an internal authority list). For example, in a TEI edition:

<persName ref="http://data.snapdrgn.net/person/10924/">C. Cassius Celer</persname>

c. As RDF annotations, using the Open Annotation format (as specified in the Cookbook under “Scenario 5”). This would serve the same function, albeit via a stand-off method, as b. above, with the added value that the RDF can be contributed to the SNAP:DRGN graph of references to a person. (It is to be hoped that projects using methods a. or b. would also eventually be persuaded to use this RDF format to contribute their annotations to the graph.) An example annotation:

     rdf:type oa:Annotation ;
     oa:hasTarget <http://insaph.kcl.ac.uk/iaph2007/iAph120614.html#al1> ;
     oa:hasBody <http://data.snapdrgn.net/person/6293/> ;
     oa:annotatedBy <http://viaf.org/viaf/106795353> ;
     oa:annotatedAt "2014-11-
18T12:17:00+00:00Z"^^xsd:date .

One outcome of this disambiguation process, which might be software assisted, involve student or community contributions, might be to turn a purely “list of names” type projects into a fully disambiguated prosopography, at which point the new list of persons (including no doubt some not yet listed in SNAP:DRGN) could become a new SNAP partner project, of type (1) or (2) above.

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