Fitting Personal Interpretations with the Semantic Web: lessons learned from Pliny

John Bradley, Michele Pasin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we expand Stefan Gradmann’s question at WWW2012 “Thinking in the graph: will Digital Humanists ever do so?” to consider whether humanists, more generally than just “digital” ones, might do thinking that is, at least to some useful degree, “in the graph” too. Drawing on the experience of the Pliny project, and recent work done within that project to explore how Pliny materials might connect with the semantic web, we explore ways in which structured “graph-like” thinking might be revealed in — to “peek out” from — parts of humanities research that is common to digital and non-digital humanists alike. Out of this, we propose a number of different ways that scholars might engage with the Semantic Web, and provide examples – arising from the building of a prototype extension to Pliny – of how these engagements could be dealt with. We also explore the challenge of ambiguity and incompleteness in scholarship, explain how 2D space operates in Pliny to cope, to some degree at least, with these issues, and consider the boundaries between the expressiveness of 2D space and the formal graph model of the Semantic Web. We end by proposing several possible avenues for future work that arise from our work so far.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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