Tag Archives: Workflow

Beyond Data Curation: Knowledge Curation

Exciting news came in a couple of weeks ago: the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) has awarded me a fellowship!

I mentioned this early-career fellowship application in my last post, and well, now I can present to you what I’ll be working on. It’ll be a 9 months project, starting in January and it’ll be concerned with knowledge curation in the context of the development of interpretations of ancient textual artefacts. And this blog was originally started with this very project in mind. I will remain at OeRC, and Prof. Alan Bowman will be my mentor.

Here are the official title and summary:

Digitally Curating Knowledge Creation: Understanding and Recording the Process of Interpreting Cultural and Historical Artefacts

Interpretation and re-interpretation of textual artefacts such as Roman wooden tablets (e.g. the Vindolanda tablets) and cuneiform clay tablets are a core activity for documentary scholars and historians. It is the act of interpretation of these documentary artefacts that gives them a meaning both as a text and as an object, one that can then be shared amongst academics and with the wider public, shedding light on a past history and culture. Interpretation is thus an act of knowledge creation.

Creating this knowledge is a complex and often arduous task that involves elaborate rationales that are strongly influenced by the context in which they are developed. For example, Continue reading Beyond Data Curation: Knowledge Curation

On public vs private research

Back from Würzburg, where I attended the “Digital Palaeography” ESF exploratory workshop (talks and abstracts here) – and on which Dr. Dominique Stutzmann reports in his blog – I find myself pondering on issues of public vs private research. Youtie, times before the widespread adoption of digital tools, already commented on this issue in the context of papyrology. In his 1963 paper [1], he presents the internal workings of what papyrologists do. In doing so, he defines public papyrology, which consists in presenting the results of papyrological work by publishing editions of the studied texts. These editions usually offer a diplomatic transcript, a reconstruction of the text, a commentary on the presented interpretation, and sometimes a line drawing of the text, along with photographs of the text-bearing artefact. Once the edition published, further interpretation of the text is open to scholarly debate and to its use as evidence for further historical research. Upstream, the work of the papyrologist, however, is much more of a private activity, which aims to produce a transcription of the text, and is paved with what Youtie [1, p27] describes as:

“[…]the doubts, the hesitations, the numerous false starts and new beginnings; the guesses sometimes confirmed, sometimes rejected by the script;  the continual recourse to books for information of every sort – lexical, grammatical,  palaeographical, historical, legal; the interludes of exhaustion and depression[…]”

Unsurprisingly, I realized at the Digital Palaeography workshop that palaeographers seem to undergo the same type of process. In his keynote, Prof. Eef Overgaauw underlined the fact that uncertainty is ubiquitous: “No answer is final” he said, “No result is conclusive. They are all provisional.”

Not only does this chime with my current reflections on uncertainty, it also made me acknowledge that the notions of public and private research do likely extend beyond papyrology and palaeography, and that the shifting shape of uncertainty Continue reading On public vs private research

From Artefact to Meaning

Initialement dans le contexte de la recherche en papyrologie et en épigraphie, mais à plus longue échéance dans le contexte d’artefacts culturels et historiques en général (textuels ou non), ce carnet de recherche vise à documenter:
• l’étude des pratiques des experts lorsqu’ils s’attèlent à la tâche de déchiffrement et d’interprétation d’un artefact.
• les méthodes adoptées afin de provoquer, d’identifier, de soutenir, et d’enregistrer les moments clefs de la découverte, de la création, de l’invention de la signification des objets étudiés et du savoir historique qui en découle. Ces méthodes auront recours à des approches issues aussi bien des sciences cognitives que de la philosophie et de la sociologie des sciences.
• l’élaboration d’un logiciel de support pour cette tâche, basé sur les résultats d’études de cas.
• l’évaluation de l’impact de l’outil informatique sur les pratiques traditionnelles, et son intégration dans le processus professionnel des chercheurs.
L’objectif ultime est de montrer que, au-delà de la curation des (méta-)données attachées à un artefact, il est essentiel d’aussi conserver les étapes intermédiaires de la création du savoir attaché à cet objet afin, le cas échéant, d’en faciliter la ré-interprétation. La contextualisation des objets est cruciale à leur interprétation, et par conséquent à leur signification, telle qu’elle est restituée dans les musées. L’aspect narratif associé à la diffusion du savoir historique et culturel consistera aussi en un des objets d’études de ce carnet de recherche.