Sorry for the paucity of writing recently, I’ve had some time out to get married and have a honeymoon diving in the Maldives. There’s been quite a lot going on recently and I’m still catching up slowly.
I’m not sure how many people are fully aware of the fantastic work that is going on at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) with regards to turning the Barrington Atlas of the Classical World into a digital goldmine based upon the Plone open-source CMS.
Organized by the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U.S.A., Pleiades brings together a global community of scholars, students and enthusiasts to expand and enhance continually the information originally brought together by the Classical Atlas Project (1988-2000) to support the publication of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (R.J.A. Talbert, ed., Princeton, 2000).
Our name, “Pleiades” (the daughters of Atlas in Greek Mythology) reflects both this heritage and the forward-looking goal of collaborative diversification.
I had the pleasure of collaborating with Tom Elliot and others on the Digital Coins project last year, and I’m currently a technical observer of their project. They have introduced a huge array of features, some of which have inspired me to add features to a couple of my projects (Sean Gillies’ post on geoRSS for instance).
The Pleiades project has just released a large amount of their information into public circulation with permalinks for use within software that support simple geoRSS specs. They offer several of their grid squares, and the current release of all places in the Barrington Atlas under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Awesome! Keep it up chaps.
All places viewed via Google Earth
View Larger Map
All places viewed via Google Maps interface
Sean is really active at pushing geographic developments and loves his Python. If you want to get involved, he has a Google group on RESTful geographic technology and chucks some thought provoking ideas around at his blog (Tom has just started his own blog as well). I’m monitoring what they are up to as I’m just about to begin specifying the next stage of development for the Scheme’s database. The Scheme’s database is about to hit 200,000 records and 300,000 objects recorded, but it has inherent flaws and functional problems that were left unresolved by Oxford ArchDigital before they liquidated and were bought out by Clarinet. We’re taking the development work entirely in house now and I am proposing to create a bespoke software solution on either a RAILs or PHP codebase, with a RESTful API, with the www.findsdatabase.org.uk URL becoming obsolete (page rank and linking at the moment is not an issue!) and the new dataset residing at www.finds.org.uk/database with friendly permalinked URLs. I want to combine the Treasure Act system (currently in a closed .NET application within the British Museum), the Celtic Coin Index data, possibly Peter Guest’s Roman coin project (subject to agreement) and the Scheme’s data into one database and then have the facility for geographic extensions to the system and the ability for external developers to reuse our data and produce fantastic mashups. Several of the brilliant things that the Pleiades project offer I want to emulate with the http://www.unc.edu/awmc/pleiades/bibliography/ – Zotero extension ready. The Scheme has over 10,000 references that could be cited by academics easily.)
Hopefully over time, institutions around the world will start to catch on and see the Pleiades project and others that get on the wagon as innovators. We shall see. Read Tom’s latest post on his blog and see whether you think he’s heading the right way!