Building Knowledge

Led by Jon Bath

LINCS will change how researchers work on the Web by combining the advantages of highly structured data. This will include more explicit documentation of data organization than is available for most databases, with links back to sources in support of provenance, access, and analysis.

A major promise is that LOD can tell us what we don’t yet know through inferencing, the computational extrapolation of information not explicitly stated in, but emergent from, LOD. LINCS will transform knowledge discovery by extrapolating inferences from millions of data points. In this underdeveloped area of Semantic Web research, the interests of scientific team members inevitably overlap with some in the technical team.

Another promise is that new forms of serendipity will arise from the semantically meaningful data. Linking datasets provides exciting opportunities to locate sources in unexpected places, recreating the serendipitous discoveries that once awaited scholars in archives or libraries on a larger, more complex scale. Such advances will propel knowledge discovery rapidly and are relevant to the design of search engines like Google.

A real challenge of LOD for humanities research is incorporating nuance and epistemological difference, including the accommodation of boundary objects that have different meanings in different fields. LINCS will work to ensure that its ontologies can represent non-hegemonic epistemologies and push alternative knowledge representations into the Semantic Web. Linked data will also improve over time, increasingly capturing nuance and shedding more light on deeper corners of darkness.

In its information architecture, LINCS will attend to difference and diversity, including the ways of knowing of marginalized groups. Above all, LINCS will provide a networked infrastructure of expertise and knowledge in linked data that will enable Canadian researchers to contribute to building a better information ecology. Canada has nothing approaching this kind of infrastructure for the study of human history and culture.