Thursday, June 17, 2010

More Papers on

Sure, is far from perfect. But I continue to be psyched when I see people who have uploaded a bunch of papers or a book.Just a brief "thanks" to those who have added to my collection of digital offprints.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When I first heard about, I pretty much ignored it. Basically, the last thing I needed was another social media site.

A few weeks ago, however, Chuck Jones sent me an invitation so I took another look. What caught my eye was the papers that users have uploaded. I'm always on the look out for digital content that I can't find elsewhere so the site's role as a central point for the discovery of articles, etc. is very useful.

Here's an incomplete list of some of my fellow "Academicians" whose scholarship I've downloaded:I've tried to do my bit as well by pointing to some of my work that's available on-line. And here are links to the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and American Numismatic Society pages. I'm intrigued by the opportunity to have a lightweight institutional repository that offers to an organization like the ANS.

Not everything is perfect about the site. The 'Department Viewer' - for want of a better name - relies on Flash. That's lame and doesn't work on an iPad. And I'm not sure the developers have realized that the papers are a real asset. It would be nice to be able to see all papers listed by people I'm following. Or all papers from a single department. And more liberal spreading around of "Follow this Person" buttons would be nice. If I'm looking at the page for a particular paper, I should be able to single-click to follow its author.

If you're interested, come join the fun. And remember to link to your digital scholarship. As you can tell, I think that's the real utility of the site.

Coin Hoards, Timelines and KML is a KML file that shows findspots of hoards with coins of Thasos in them. You can see that file rendered with the Google Map API at

This post is about viewing the KML file in Google Earth. If you do that, you'll see a Timeline slider appear in the top left of the G Earth window. Slide the control to the right and you'll see an explosion of hoards towards the north following the mid-2nd century BC. It's really quite dramatic so give it a shot.

One part of an explanation is that Thasos started striking large numbers of new larger tetradrachms following 148 BC, with many of these traveling north. Exactly why is a matter of historical interpretation. The Roman province of Macedon was established in 146 B.C. and that had a profound effect on both the issuance and circulation of coinage. is about making this information more accessible so that more scholars can engage with the question.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bibliographic Tools, Citations, and Digital Publications

Some preliminaries... I'm posting about digital publication of ancient world scholarship as part of my work at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. I say that only to make clear that there's a practical element to my thinking about issues of citation, structure, metadata, etc. I will be helping to shepherd content into the digital realm and that means decisions, decisions, decisions. I am enjoying the focus this context gives to my thoughts. And since I, like most bloggers, live for little nuggets of feedback, those have been appreciated as well.

It's also important to stress that this is all happening within the intellectual context of ISAW. In other words, my new colleagues have pushed on these issues in interesting ways and I can take advantage of their previous work.

As in, let's talk about Zotero and the role it can play in providing a sustainable bibliographic framework for digital scholarship. This is already happening at the ISAW-hosted Pleiades project, and that lets me take a very practical approach to writing about the issue.

The Pleiades Zotero library is at It includes the item, which is the Zotero record for the article
Coastal Sites of Northeast Africa: The Case Against Bronze Age Ports
. In case it isn't clear, the point of the article is pretty much that there weren't any.

In yesterday's post, I talked about citing secondary scholarship. Today, I'm interested in the mediating those citations through Zotero bibliographic records.

The same basic pattern would apply: '<a rel="dc:references" href="">White and White 1996</a>' is a reference to the work described in that Zotero record. I am interested in the extent to which it is necessary to indicate that it is not a reference to the Zotero record itself but let me put that off for now. More relevant here is why use Zotero to establish unique identities for cited works at all?

The most compelling reason is that not all works will have such identifiers and Zotero allows one to create these. For example, is the Zotero record for an article that has no direct representation in Worldcat and which isn't online (I don't think). I.e., you're on your own in terms of a stable URI for this title.

And since consistency is good, it might be appropriate to create Zotero records for all cited works in a digital publication and only point to those.

This approach is also attractive because it allows linking to digital representations of titles as they become available. For example, the record for Coastal Sites could be linked to, which is the JSTOR record. A more compelling example is this link: That will take you to the Atypon-Link version of J. Cherry and W. Parkinson's Hesperia 2010 article on lithics from SW Greece. As the volumes of Hesperia role over into JSTOR once they are past the 3 year wall, the Atypon URI will be either matched or replaced by an equivalent JSTOR URI. A Zotero record can have links to both versions without requiring any updating of the digital publication which points to that record.

And if more than one digital publication points to a Zotero record, that equivalency should be discoverable. I like that.

The big potential downer is: do we trust Zotero to be around for the foreseeable future? Or at least, will these URI's work over the very long term? I don't know the answer to that. This is one reason to ensure that each digital publication "knows" bibliographic metadata for all the citations it makes. Centuries from now, that information may be useful in tracking down readable versions of titles.

And here'a a finishing twist. Regardless of which tool is used to generate URI-based unique identifiers for cited works, that same tool could (should? must?) be used to provide URI-based unique identifiers for the digital publication itself.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

References in Digital Publications

Modern scholarship relies on citation. It's efficient in that one work can incorporate the results of another without having to repeat it. It's also a requirement of our modern academic culture that if you use somebody's idea, you give that person credit. There's more to be said on both points but this post is more about mechanics than purpose. (Though see here for a recent discussion of purpose. [I fall into the camp of : if you want credit for your work, make it easy to identify and be generous in giving credit to others. If you don't need credit, that's OK but still give it.]).

Back to references. They come in many forms in print works. In pre-linked media, among the purposes of citation is to give future readers the information they need to physically acquire the referenced work. That is, you take the title of the book or journal, go to the library to find the volume, and then start reading.

It is one of the great glories of the Internet that this physical labor is no longer always necessary. The simple construct '<a href="">I wrote this</a>' is rendered as 'I wrote this', so that a mere click takes you directly to the article.

That form of link is too simple to support modern scholarly practice. Citations of the form (Heath 2010) give a preliminary indication to the reader of who wrote a referenced work. Full information in footnotes further enriches the reading experience, but at the cost of possibly interrupting the flow of an argument, or depriving the reader of a collected bibliography at the end of a work. Choose your own preference, that's not my point here.

Instead, I am exploring specific patterns of markup that promote access to referenced works while also recording bibliographic metadata in a robust and sustainable fashion. Two needs, two solutions.

Here's some markup: Late Roman pottery is very visible in Aegean landscapes (<a rel="dcterms:references" href="">Pettegrew 2007</a>).

If we momentarily ignore the question of whether or not Handles records are good stable URIs for bibliographic resources, the semantics of this html are clear: it represents a citation of the 2007 article by David Pettegrew, The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth. (Note: it doesn't reference the html page describing that title)

The use of the term "dcterms:references" in the RDFa rel attribute follows from the Dublin Core's Guidelines for Encoding Bibliographic Citation Information in Dublin Core Metadata. In this context 'references' is a verb, not a plural noun.

That html will render as: "Late Roman pottery is very visible in Aegean landscapes (Pettegrew 2007)." Again, this is all pretty clear.

It's also worth noting that the 'a' element in html is a building-block of our search-engine enabled world. Scholarship should not fight that, but use it. As many have said, "you get this for free."

I do, however, want to pair this reference with bibliographic metadata. Here's where some more RDFa comes in.

'' is a unique identifier for Pettegrew's article. This suggests the following snippet: <div about=""><span property="dcterms:bibliographicCitation">Pettegrew, D. (2007). "The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth: Interpreting Ceramic Data Produced by Regional Archaeological Surveys" In <i>Hesperia</i> 76.4: 743-784.</span></div>

These two snippets can be adapted and combined with a little more RDFa scaffolding:
<html xmlns=""
xmlns:dcterms="" >
<body about="">
<h1>My Text</h1>
<p>Late Roman pottery is very visible in Aegean landscapes (<a rel="dcterms:references" href="">Pettegrew 2007</a></p>
<p about="" property="dcterms:bibliographicCitation">Pettegrew, D. (2007). "The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth: Interpreting Ceramic Data Produced by Regional Archaeological Surveys" In <i>Hesperia</i> 76.4: 743-784.</p>

Pointing an RDFa extractor at that html gives:
@prefix rdf: <> .
@prefix : <> .
@prefix dcterms: <> .

   dcterms:references <> .

   dcterms:bibliographicCitation "Pettegrew, D. (2007). \"The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth: Interpreting Ceramic Data Produced by Regional Archaeological Surveys\" In <i xmlns=\"\" xmlns:dcterms=\"\">Hesperia</i> 76.4: 743-784."^^rdf:XMLLiteral .

The shorter version of which is: references Pettegrew 2007 and even knows something about it. There are lots of third-party tools that can find this information when it is encoded in this way. And I could enrich the 'bibliographicCitation' to include parsable information on author, title, date, etc. That's for another time.

I want to stress that I don't think this determines a particular citation style. Use footnotes if that's preferable. As long as the RDFa produces triples similar to the above, your information is useful. And some degree of run-time transformation is also possible, depending on the granularity of the markup.