Reflections on cultural heritage and digital humanities: modelling in practice and theory

Arianna Ciula, Eide Øyvind

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Computer based modelling in cultural heritage has focused on database development, generalised as data standards and, since the 1990s, also formal ontologies. Modelling in digital humanities has had its core in textual scholarship, including close reading and text encoding of literary and historical sources as well as models of text corpora, usually relying on statistical methods. Integration between the two modelling paradigms has been undertaken at the practical level. This paper goes beyond pragmatic concerns by focusing on comparing the two modelling traditions at a more abstract level. To this end, one core standard development undertaken in each domain is selected: CIDOC's Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) for modelling in cultural heritage---narrowed down to museum documentation---and Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) for modelling in digital humanities---narrowed down to textual scholarship. This does not imply that these two standards are only used in the two areas mentioned above, rather that their main focus has been in those areas. We will use the two standards to investigate what is meant by modelling in the two communities, thus, clarify the differences and the similarities between the concepts of modelling and models as they are used in each community. Partly this will be done based on a survey of previous literature, and partly by an investigation into modelling practices within these two standardisation initiatives. Minutes and reports, descriptions of the standards themselves and their developments, mailing lists threads, and the participants' own experience in the development of the respective standards have informed this study.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIn Proceedings of the First International Conference on Digital Access to Textual Cultural Heritage (DATeCH '14)
PublisherACM, New York, NY, USA
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

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