Thursday, July 13, 2006

Computational historiography?

Historians breathe life into histories with the narratives and stories they weave.

The glue of historical interpretation, provided by historians, is often necessary to bridge the gaps in historical records where evidence is lacking.

Despite the need for historians to be creative in their interpretations, is there a way to make the writing of history more rigorous and accurate, a way to at least get the basic facts straight before lauching off into a personal interpretation?

WikiTextRose of Wikipedia is doing some interesting work on computational historiography and the citation of historical sources (includes diagram):
"The wiki will support evidentiary citations within historiographical texts at a level usable by the professional historian. That is, in addition to recording citations between secondary sources of interest to the general reader, the wiki can record dependencies on ultimate/primary sources (including unpublished ones such as manuscripts, archival materials, pottery sherds, etc.) and thus provide a catalog of all the ultimate source "texts" within a particular historiographical discipline."
What is WikiTextRose?
"WikiTextrose (a portmanteau of "text" and "(compass) rose") is a text relationship database for mapping the various interactions between interpretable artifacts (i.e. "texts"). Though the project is inspired by long-established theories in the field of citation analysis, it expands upon these by considering all the ways in which one text may interact with another."
Sounds like we might actually get working rigorous working models of computer-based historiography from Wikipedia developers soon.