Friending The Humanities Knowledge Base: Exploring Bibliography as Social Network in Rose

Abstract (in English): 

(9/1/2011 TO 9/30/2012)

Alan Liu, Rama Hoetzlein, Rita Raley, Ivana Anjelkovic, Salman Bakht, Joshua Dickinson, Michael Hetrick, Andrew Kalaidjian, Eric Nebeker, Dana Solomon, and Lindsay Thomas

We report in this paper on a project we advanced from an initial prototype to beta stage in 2011-12 with a NEH Digital Humanities Start-up Grant (Level 2). We aim not just to narrate grant objectives, activities, and results but also to surface some of the larger digital humanities issues-- inextricably humanistic and technological, theoretical and practical--that we engaged. The project is called RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment), an online knowledge exploration environment for humanities scholars and students developed in the Ruby on Rails programming environment on top of a MySQL database. Accessed through a Web site (, the system includes the following main content and interface features: • an extensive set of bibliographical metadata (but no full texts) machineharvested from Project Gutenberg, YAGO, and SNAC (Social Networks & Archival Contexts); • an initial set of user-entered metadata (including "relationships" and "keywords") added to the pre-existing data; • a user interface with search and editing functionality modeled as a social network site with "profile pages" for each author, work, and user; • interactive visualizations in several styles to facilitate navigation and understanding; • "history"-tracking and "collections"; • "storyboards" to shape visual arguments; • and user documentation, including a "Quick Start Guide" and demo video.

The basic idea of RoSE is that a bibliography of humanitiesrelated knowledge can be modeled as an evolving “social network” of people and works. Bibliography thus acquires a social face, becoming not a set of "records" but a participatory network of relationships between, for example, an author’s colleagues, friends, lovers, imitators, critics, and later scholars and students (or a work's similar influences on and relationships with other works). We position RoSE as a contextual discovery tool for the formative stages of learning about a topic. When beginning to research an author, work, or idea, users (our target audiences are undergraduates, graduate students, and more advanced scholars) can explore RoSE to find clusters and pathways of relationships situating their topic in its intellectual context; and they can add entries and relationships as part of the very process of advancing their understanding of that context.

(Source: Introduction to the white paper)

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Scott Rettberg