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

PhD Thesis in Digital Humanities affiliated with the Graduate School of Social Sciences’ (G3S) doctoral programme. PDF Version on the University of Basel’s repository: (…)

Submitted on DD Month 2024

Author

Julien A. Raemy (University of Basel) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4711-5759

Supervisors

Abstract

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 W3C 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.

This work is grounded as part of the SNSF-funded research project Participatory Knowledge Practices in Analogue and Digital Image Archives (PIA), which aims to develop a citizen science platform around three photographic collections from the archives of Cultural Anthropology Switzerland (CAS), formerly the Swiss Society for Folklore Studies.

The theoretical framework is firmly rooted in Actor-Network Theory (ANT), 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 non-human actors, such as the data models developed in the context of the PIA research project. Additionally, the theoretical framework is enriched by integrating complementary perspectives from Anna Haraway’s Situated Knowledges, Susan Leigh Star’s Boundary Objects, and Luciano Floridi’s Philosophy of Information. Each of these frameworks contributes uniquely to our understanding of LOUD and its socio-technical landscape.

Overall, this doctoral thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of LOUD and their adoption within cultural heritage institutions. By investigating community practices and semantic interoperability, this research seeks to identify and address challenges and provide insights into how LOUD can be effectively used for the description and dissemination of cultural heritage resources, taking into account all the human and non-human entities needed to develop those standards and to learn from it in the broader cultural heritage field. Moreover, this research aims to recognise the evolution of community practices and the potential bias of a western-centred view. The empirical part of the research is not limited to the implementation of the LOUD standards within the PIA research project, it also comprises an analysis of the social fabrics of the IIIF and Linked Art communities, and an investigation of LUX, Yale Collections Discovery platform.

Introduction

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Context

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Interlinking Cultural Heritage Data

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Exploring Relationships through an Actor-Network Theory Lens

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Research Scope and Methodology

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The Social Fabrics of IIIF and Linked Art

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PIA as a Laboratory

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Yale’s LUX

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Discussion

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Conclusion

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Bibliography

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This page will host my PhD thesis in HTML format.