Scholarly reasoning and writing in an automatically assembled and tested digital library

Neel Smith (College of the Holy Cross)

Digital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies seminar 2013

Friday August 2nd at 16:30, in Room G37, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Video recording of seminar (MP4)

Audio recording of seminar (MP3)

Presentation (PDF)

Since 2007, the Homer Multitext project (HMT) has worked from high-resolution digital photography to develop diplomatic editions recording all visible textual and graphic features in a series of important manuscripts of the Iliad with scholia. As the scope of the work has expanded, we have increasingly relied on automated verification and build systems to manage the data sets assembled by numerous contributors at multiple institutions.

The foundation for these automated processes is an explicit digital model of all the content in the Homer Multitext project. We have subsequently begun to take advantage of this model to automate higher-order analytical functions, and to support an environment for scholarly writing.

My presentation will survey how these developments are built on top of the CITE architecture (, and will include illustrations from the following layers of work:

  1. analyzing and verifying all editorial contributions (both referential integrity of all citations, and analysis of contents)
  2. generating from the output of verification a complete description in RDF triples of the current state of the HMT. To get a sense of scale, for the first quarter of the famous Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad, we generate approximately half a million RDF statements.
  3. a new system reasoning from the triple store to analyze the visual layout of scholia in relation to the text they comment on. (Results of this work are forthcoming in Academic Anvil's new "Built-Upon" series:
  4. a prototype of "wikicite," a wiki-like environment for scholarly writing, in which all citations are to technology-independent URNs. Wikicite uses the HMT's "html kit" to resolve URNs and either format them as external links or directly embed content retrieved from network services.


The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.