Posts Tagged ‘Cultural Heritage’

The Importance of the Semantic Web To Our Cultural Heritage

oldmasterpaintingEarlier this year The Semantic Web Blog reported that the Getty Research Institute has released the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) as Linked Open Data. One of the external advisors to its work was Vladimir Alexiev, who leads the Data and Ontology Management group at Ontotext and works on many projects related to cultural heritage.

Ontotext’s OWLIM family of semantic repositories supports large-scale knowledge bases of rich semantic information, and powerful reasoning. The company, for example, did the first working implementation of CIDOC CRM search; CIDOC CRM is one of these rich ontologies for cultural heritage.

We caught up with Alexiev recently to gain some insight into semantic technology’s role in representing the cultural heritage sphere. Here are some of his thoughts about why it’s important for cultural institutions to adopt Linked Open Data and semantic technologies to enhance our digital understanding of cultural heritage objects and information:

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The Arches Project Puts A Semantic And Geo-Spatial Spin On Cultural Heritage

Inventorying and managing cultural heritage data turns out to be a pretty complicated undertaking. The construction of a famous site may have lasted across different time periods, and its present location may span multiple districts. Buildings may be associated not only with famous architects but also with well-known residents. Or structures may have been constructed atop pre-existing entities.

Helping sort it all out is the work of The Arches Project, collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and World Monuments Fund (WMF). The Arches effort grew out of GCI’s and WMF’s work to develop MEGA-Jordan, a purpose-built geographic information system (GIS) to inventory and manage archaeology sites at a national level for that country. But for this more generic and open-source take at accommodating any country, region or other institution worldwide responsible for the protection of immovable cultural heritage, the focus expanded from the geo-spatial to the semantic.

“We became very familiar with the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model ontology,” says Alison Dalgity, who manages the Arches project on GCI’s side. The CRM provides definitions and a formal structure for describing the implicit and explicit concepts and relationships used in cultural heritage documentation. “We realized we needed something like that. Now, the GIS piece is only part of this – it’s nice to know where something is, but all the other relationships – the who, how, what and when and so on – have to be represented, too.”

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New Semantic Web Text Book Available Online

Morgan & Claypool Publishers have released a new textbook entitled, Publishing and Using Cultural Heritage Linked Data on the Semantic Web. The book is available for purchase here. According to the abstract, “Cultural Heritage (CH) data is syntactically and semantically heterogeneous, multilingual, semantically rich, and highly interlinked. It is produced in a distributed, open fashion by museums, libraries, archives, and media organizations, as well as individual persons. Managing publication of such richness and variety of content on the Web, and at the same time supporting distributed, interoperable content creation processes, poses challenges where traditional publication approaches need to be re-thought. Application of the principles and technologies of Linked Data and the Semantic Web is a new, promising approach to address these problems.” Read more