Humanities’ Superpowers on the Web
In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” scholars, politicians, policy-makers, educators, students and citizens need access to authoritative information and its historical contexts. But the “connective tissue” that Web users need in order to synthesize the immense amounts of authoritative data is missing. This connective tissue is linked data—a method of publishing structured data so it can be interlinked and become more useful.
The economic, health, social and even defense benefits of access to peer-reviewed, authoritative data are well established. But there is a shortage of humanities data available online in linked-data format. Currently, linked data only make up one percent of the Web. That means whether they know it or not, users do not have access to the full knowledge-generating power that the Web is designed to support.
Dr. Constance Crompton, Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities, aims to change this situation by giving Web users access to the ”superpowers of the humanities”: a better ability to understand the past in order to improve the future.
Crompton, her research team and colleagues are converting vast amounts of peer-reviewed, authoritative, open-access digital humanities content into linked data—and creating models of the past to inform expectations about the future. The authoritative information they generate will be served alongside its historical context to help both human readers and computers infer appropriate solutions from the data. Ultimately, this research will break down data silos to help turn Web users into humanities superheroes.