Event | Tom Elliott on “The Pleiades Gazetteer Data Model: Going Off-Road in the Spatial and Digital Humanities

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On Friday, March 25, 2016 at noon in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Tom Elliott, Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, will discuss the Pleiades Gazetteer of the Ancient World, a community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places.

Tom will unpack the Pleiades data model and the content curation process that supports it, highlighting the major decision points and criteria in its development history. A key theme of the talk will be conceptual flexibility and reinvention in a digital humanities project.

This event is part of the Spatial Humanities Lecture Series and is sponsored by Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), the Brown University Library, and the M. B. Mandeville Lectureship Fund. It is free and open to the public.

Pleiades publishes authoritative information about ancient places and spaces, providing unique services for finding, displaying, and reusing that information under open license. It publishes not just for individual human users, but also for search engines and for the widening array of computational research and visualization tools that support humanities teaching and research. It embraces the new paradigm of citizen humanities, encouraging contributions from any knowledgeable person and doing so in a context of pervasive peer review.

The project arose out of work on the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. It now provides open access to the most comprehensive geospatial dataset for antiquity available today; it serves as a key component of at least 40 other important digital humanities projects; and it constitutes a core resource for classroom activities focused on ancient geography.

Since its inception, Pleiades has been repeatedly been re-conceptualized in response to technical challenges and opportunities. The resulting digital publication can be hard to characterize by genre or function. Is it historical? Is it archaeological? Is it a GIS or a digital gazetteer? Is it an “Un-GIS”? A reference work? A controlled vocabulary? A Linked Data graph?

Tom Elliott

miniTom Elliott graduated from Duke University in 1989 with B.S. in Computer Science and a second major in Classical Studies. Following service as a Communications and Computer Systems Officer in the United States Air Force, he worked as a software developer and program manager for AEgis Research Corporation (now AEgis Technologies) on a number of visual and engineering simulation projects. He received his Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2004, for research focused on the intersection of Roman documentary, administrative and geographic studies. His doctoral dissertation was entitled: Epigraphic Evidence for Boundary Disputes in the Early Roman Empire.

Tom has spent nearly two decades advancing the practice of digital humanities in ancient studies. In the late 1990s, he wrote database software that was used to prepare the alphabetical gazetteer and Map-by-Map Directory that accompanies the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (Princeton, 2000). During that period he also started the EpiDoc Community, which creates standards-based tools and guidelines for the digital encoding of epigraphic and papyrological texts like those published in the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias 2007or by the Integrating Digital Papyrology project. In August 2000, he was appointed as Founding Director of the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In February 2006, Tom stepped down from this position to assume full-time leadership of the Pleiades Project, which is developing an online workspace for ancient geography. In 2008, he brought this role with him to the Institute, where he is also responsible for developing and overseeing a spectrum of innovative digital projects and services.

Date: March 25, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence