Prosopographies and social networks workshop

prosopProsopographies are great sources for building past social networks. Those interested in or working with large datasets of past individuals might be interested in the Prosop workshop. More information below. or on prosop.org

Prosop: a social networking tool for the past

Call for participants

Second database development workshop

Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) on May 9, 2014.

Historians and other scholars with large databases of historical person data are invited to a workshop to test and populate Prosop, a project funded by the Office of Digital Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

What is Prosop?

Prosop is a collaborative semantic web database of details about individuals in the past. Although it maps networks and discovers connections, it is not just facebook for dead people. In particular, it aims to:

  • manage diverse types of data from different historical settings,
  • aggregate of large quantities of person data,
  • accommodate uncertain and conflicting information, and
  • facilitate data-driven study of historical systems of description and classification.
  • For more detailed information, visit our website at prosop.org

What kinds of data do we seek?

We’re looking for information about relatively large sets of relatively ordinary people from the past. Typically, this information is extracted from archival records used by microhistorians. For example, the database contains the name, age, address, and physical description of 700 criminal court defendants from 1880s Egypt. Prosop is meant to work for all kinds of historical person data, and we are especially interested in data in unusual formats (linguistic, topical, or otherwise) that will help us to develop the flexibility of the system. Also, we are looking for participants who are willing to share their data with the community of researchers using Prosop.

Applying with a counterpart

For this workshop, we are especially interested in applications from pairs of researchers who have similar datasets and would like to test them for possible overlap. Prosop may help them to discover common individuals and explore community characteristics.

What will happen at the workshops?

Before the workshop, each participant will submit a tranche of names, which will be imported into Prosop. Participants will describing the characteristics of their data and the ways it might interact with other person data. Those working in pairs will consider any overlap that Prosop found, as well as commonalities that it fails to discover. Participants will discuss issues of categorization and comparison that arise. We will work to find ways to link data and to make the system more usable. The workshop will provide a chance for historians and developers to communicate.

What’s in it for participants?

Workshop participants will contribute to the design of a tool that will enable new research into global social history, and will have early access to its results. They should gain new perspectives on their own data and its place in the global history of person information. Those working in pairs may discover fruitful overlap between their data sets. Participants’ experience and input will help to refine the system towards its aim, which is to encompass all categories of historical person data. Participant costs will be covered by the organizers, though some cost sharing may be asked of those applying from abroad.

How to apply?

Apply via the form available here. You will be asked to attach a CV and a letter of application, which should include a general description of the data which you wish to contribute to the project. Where possible, please specify:

  • the number of persons in the database
  • the categories of information recorded about each person (e.g. name, age, birthplace, occupation)
  • the geographical and chronological range of the persons represented
  • the type of sources from which the information is drawn (language, archives, genres).

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications for the second workshop is April 7, 2014.

Are there other ways to participate?

Prosop is an ongoing project. In addition to possible future workshops, we are looking for beta testers. If you are not able to join this workshop, but might want to be involved in the future, please get in touch via our website and join our mailing list.

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