The Old Scholar's Historical Thoughts

September 5, 2009

Project Ideas

Filed under: Project — theoldscholar @ 3:15 am

I don’t really want to make a web site. I did that for Clio 2 and it wasn’t that good. What I would like to do is try to develop a tool that can be used by historians to either display information or use the web better. So I was brainstorming – people who know me say for me it shouldn’t be called “storming” its more like a light drizzle, but anyways here are some ideas to start off with

1)    Develop a “trust” mechanism for displaying data and sharing data within a Web 2.0 world. If web sites are supposed to be able to “consume” data from other sites there needs to be a way that one site can trust that the data they are receiving is from a reputable source. The governance structure is the hard part because that would entail setting up a consortium of Univeristies/scholars/publishers etc to review authors/submissions and issue them keys to digitally sign their work. I am definitely not proposing developing that framework for the Internet, that would probably be over the grant money available, in fact that would probably be over the stimulus package. What I propose is the development of an architecture, using a Public Key Infrastructure which could be used by a publisher or a college to validate their data contributors. If this catches on the issue of “trust” between domains could be tackled.

2)    Develop a concept/tool that will attempt to capture data off of digitized information on a person or place on the web and use open-source tools to parse that data (Data Mining of Historical Information). The Intelligence Community captures data from all different sources and when it is all correlated it yields startling connections not envisioned when just using straight line thinking. Probably the most nebulous idea, but hey it’s the first week in class.

3)    Development of Standards for the interchange of temporal information.  There is a standard for determining where in space an object is by giving it it’s geoloc. This is Latitude and Longitude according to a specific map representation of the earth. This geoloc can be translated into any other map representation. I am not aware of the same thing being available for time representation.  When you view a date you never know whether it is in Julian data, Gregorian date, Jewish calendar, etc. This grant would be to develop a proposed standard for temporal data within the history profession for web interchange of data.

4)    Development of XML tag set for historical information. Currently, if you want to exchange information between two map or graphical representation of space you would probably put it into a .kml file. If you were in the public safety or Justice community you would put your data into a specific XML hierarchy called GJXDM. There are standards for passing data between all different communities. What I would propose is the development of a specific standard for passing data concerning one particular type of historical event. An easy one would be a Battle. The grant would be for the development of a draft standard, the development of the XML syntax checker and an interface that would allow people to enter data about a battle and spit out the properly formatted XML stream.

5)    Development of Historical Viewers – We know we can place data on a map where it happened. We can also place data on a timeline when it happened. Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to combine those two ideas together and allow you to use a control to see historical events shown in geospatial output where you can change both the location and time individually and simultaneously. – I don’t know how it could be used but it sounds interesting.

6)    Develop a tool to show relationships/criticality/user-defined parameters of historical entities. This would work like the Library Thing book cloud, or maybe the thesaurus link tool that would allow you to see maybe historical figures sized by the number of web sites about them, or the size of the world they influenced. Or maybe familial links between historical figures that dynamically changes as you traverse the links on the screen.

By the time of the next class I may have thrown all of these ideas out the door. Thoughts?



  1. I really liked the idea you posted in your comment on my blog for a dual grant approach, one for the technology, one for the history. Good stuff, definitely worth considering and discussing.

    Comment by colamaria — September 5, 2009 @ 10:53 am | Reply

  2. Is it okay for the oldscholar’s daughter to comment?
    I think the map/timeline would be so cool. Teachers would love that.I like the last suggestion too. As for number 1, it would be amazing…but what a challenge!

    Comment by Laura — September 7, 2009 @ 9:06 pm | Reply

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