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Published on Jun 13, 2016
Pelagios is an international initiative concerned with the development of Linked Open Data (LOD) methods, tools and services so as to better interconnect the vast and ever-growing range of historical resources online. In particular it associates place references within those resources to online gazetteers that offer URI-based identifiers for such places. Some of its major outputs have been the development of Recogito, a tool for semantically annotating place references in images and texts, and Peripleo, a service for visualizing and exploring the graph of data that these annotations form. In parallel with these developments a community of practitioners has started to form with interests in a range of related activities: the annotation of curated or third-party content; the production of specialist gazetteers; the integration of place annotations with those of people, periods and things; and the visualization and analysis of graph-based data, to name but a few. Since its early stages Pelagios has made concerted efforts to consult and support such stakeholders, but as it has grown new opportunities and challenges have emerged. In particular we have established that within a heritage context, LOD's principal advantage is its ability to relate independently maintained projects without requiring centralization. But what are the social ramifications of such an approach? In a world in which funding, academic legitimacy, intellectual property, and even conference presentations assume the authority of individuals and institutions, can LOD communities ever scale effectively? This paper reports on early developments within Pelagios Commons, a new phase of Pelagios which focuses explicitly on addressing technical and social decentralization within Web-based projects of this nature. It will present our experiences in establishing Special Interest Groups, and the different challenges faced in devolving LOD architectures. It will also seek to foster discussion and critique from those planning or implementing similar community–driven projects.
Leif Isaksen, Simon Rainer, Pau de Soto Cañamares, Elton T. E. Barker