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LOUD for Cultural Heritage


Linked Open Usable Data for Cultural Heritage: Perspectives on Community Practices and Semantic Interoperability

PhD Thesis in Digital Humanities conducted by Julien Antoine Raemy (University of Basel)

Supervised by PD Dr. Peter Fornaro (University of Basel), Prof. Dr. Walter Leimgruber (University of Basel), and Dr. Robert Sanderson (Yale University)

My PhD focuses on web standards, i.e. Linked Open Usable Data (LOUD) specifications (such as the IIIF Presentation API 3.0, Linked Art, and the Web Annotation Data Model), supporting the description and dissemination of cultural heritage resources. Two research axes or perspectives have been identified to investigate LOUD, the first axis focusing on community practices, i.e. assessing the mechanisms by which organisations, individuals and apparatuses are entangled in consensus-making, and the second on semantic interoperability, i.e. how to make data meaningful to machines in a standardised and interoperable manner.
The theoretical framework of my thesis is situated through and beyond an Actor-Network Theory (ANT) lens, a constructivist approach mainly defined by Bruno Latour, as one of the objectives is to describe the associations between actors and the social fabrics of the LOUD ecosystem as well as to highlight the importance of nonhuman actors, such as the data models developed within the PIA research project and for my own purposes.  "Beyond ANT", because I am keen to draw on the work of Anna Haraway (Situated Knowledges) and Susan Leigh Star (Boundary Objects) amongst others, which should provide an avenue to critically examine LOUD and their underpinning technologies and communities. 


The thesis is grounded as part of the SNSF-funded Participatory Knowledge Practices in Analogue and Digital Image Archives (PIA) research project (2021-2025), which aims to develop a Citizen Science platform around three photographic collections of the Swiss Society for Folklore Studies (SSFS/SGV - Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde)' archives, namely the Atlas of Swiss Folklore (SGV_05), Kreis Family (SGV_10), and Ernst Brunner (SGV_12).

Website Structure

This website is structured as follows:

  1. The Summary outlines the setting of my thesis, notably by disclosing the main components of the table of contents as well as the aspects related to the objectives, research questions, theoretical framework and methodology.
  2. The PhD Data Model is a meta exercise surrounding my thesis. The page describes the different resource templates that have been created within this instance of Omeka S and the work-in-progress mapping into Linked Art, an RDF (Resource Description Framework) profile application of CIDOC-CRM that uses JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD) and the Getty Vocabularies. 
  3. Following are the Notebook Entries that accompany the thesis and also show the impact that I have within the associations that weave around it, and in particular the data model and information architecture, essential actors within this endeavour.
  4. Lastly, the Research Outputs that were written and presented throughout the PIA project and related to the PhD are also recorded here. Have a look at my personal website to have an insight of the range of content I have written, presented and also lectured on.