Identifiers and authority records

Lately, Sean Gillies and I have been thinking hard about persistent identifiers and simple URLs for the names, locations and places in our conceptual model for Pleiades. It’s just one thread going into the communal attempts of computing classicists to produce a strong-but-flexible interoperability fabric for our information systems. Greg Crane was pounding the round table about this issue during the Pleiades meet-up last weekend at the Blue Ginger in San Diego. I was reminded of the conversation when I ran across Ed Summers’ interesting post on identifiers and authority records.

The field of ancient studies needs a robust discussion about — and concrete steps to produce and maintain — agreed sets of identifiers for things we need to cite often: primary and secondary works, names, people, places, things. After all, it was our intellectual ancestors who invented persistent citation as a scholarly tool! These identifiers need to be backed up by both authoritative reference resources and dynamic clouds of crosslinked information developed collaboratively and asynchronously. And hey, reinventing the wheel is a bad idea. We’ve got to plug into and use everybody else’s cyberinfrastructure wherever we can, saving our energy for building and advocating for those things that really are special for us. The librarians and information scientists are doing alot; so are the e-science and grid folks.
Closer to home, Chris Blackwell and Neel Smith, operating under the umbrella of the Center for Hellenic Studies’ Technical Working Group, have been pushing hard in this area, and more of us should be talking to them more often. I know Sebastian Heath is in the thick of it, on behalf of the American Numismatic Society and its European partners.  So are Hugh Cayless, Gabby Bodard and those other EpiDoc folks.

Did I miss you? Append a comment and point us to your work on identifiers, authority records and interoperability!

About Tom Elliott

Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
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