REED London and the Promise of Critical Infrastructure

paper, specified "short paper"
  1. 1. Diane Katherine Jakacki

    Bucknell University

  2. 2. Susan Irene Brown

    University of Guelph

  3. 3. James Cummings

    Newcastle University

  4. 4. Kimberly Martin

    University of Guelph

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Alan​ ​Liu​ ​has​ ​called​ ​upon​ ​digital​ ​humanists​ ​to​ ​think​ ​more​ ​critically​ ​about​ ​infrastructure​ ​-​ ​the​ ​“social cum​ ​technological​ ​milieu​ ​that​ ​at​ ​once​ ​enables​ ​the​ ​fulfillment​ ​of​ ​human​ ​experience​ ​and​ ​enforces constraints​ ​on​ ​that​ ​experience” (Liu, 2017).​ ​Liu’s​ ​invitation​ ​comes​ ​at​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​when​ ​researchers​ ​involved​ ​in large-scale,​ ​long-term​ ​projects​ ​are​ ​shifting​ ​focus​ ​from​ ​remediation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​digital incunabula​ ​to​ ​transmediation​ ​and​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​systems​ ​that​ ​support​ ​sustained​ ​discourse across​ ​ever-morphing​ ​digital​ ​networks,​ ​when​ ​we​ ​are​ ​recognizing​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​“dynamism​ ​of​ ​the base​ ​or​ ​serialized​ ​form​ ​of​ ​the​ ​text—the​ ​state​ ​in​ ​which​ ​it​ ​is​ ​stored—as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​dynamic​ ​modes​ ​of presentation” (Brown, 2016: 288)​. ​REED​ ​London​ ​is​ ​one​ ​such​ ​project​ ​with​ ​a​ ​polyvalent​ ​dataset​ ​that​ ​spans​ ​over​ ​500 years’​ ​worth​ ​of​ ​archival​ records, ​embracing​ ​from​ ​the​ ​start​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​establish​ ​a​ ​stable, ​responsive production​ ​and​ ​presentation​ ​environment​ ​primed​ ​for​ ​use​ ​by​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of​ ​scholarly​ ​audiences. Thus​ ​we​ ​find​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​immediately​ ​testing​ ​those​ ​infrastructural​ constraints. ​In​ ​this​ ​paper, members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​project​ ​team​ ​will​ ​address​ ​the​ ​challenges​ ​we​ ​face​ ​as​ ​we​ ​develop​ ​and implement​ ​a​ ​framework​ ​that​ ​trains​ ​us​ ​to​ ​think​ ​about​ ​our​ ​collected​ ​data​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​much​ ​larger networks​ ​of​ ​disparate​ ​resources​ ​and​ ​user​ ​needs.
REED​ ​London​ ​develops​ ​from​ ​a​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​the​ ​Records​ ​of​ ​Early​ ​English​ ​Drama​ ​(REED) and​ ​the​ ​Canadian​ ​Writing​ ​Research​ ​Collaboratory​ ​(CWRC). ​Together​ ​we​ ​are​ ​establishing​ ​an​ ​openly accessible​ ​online​ ​scholarly​ ​and​ ​pedagogical​ ​resource​ ​of​ ​London-centric​ documentary, editorial, and bibliographic​ ​materials​ ​related​ ​to​ ​performance,​ ​theatre,​ ​and​ ​music​ ​spanning​ ​the​ ​period​ ​1100-1642. With​ ​support​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Andrew​ ​W.​ ​Mellon​ ​Foundation​ ​and​ ​a​ ​CANARIE​ ​Research​ ​Software​ ​Program grant,​ ​a​ ​team​ ​of​ ​researchers​ ​in​ ​the​ ​digital​ ​humanities​ ​and​ ​performance​ ​history​ ​from​ ​the​ ​U.S., Canada,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​U.K.​ ​are​ ​building​ ​a​ ​stable,​ ​extensible​ ​editorial​ ​production​ ​and​ ​publication environment​ ​that​ ​will​ ​create​ ​new​ ​possibilities​ ​for​ ​scholarly​ ​presentation​ ​of​ ​archival​ ​materials​ ​gathered from​ ​legal,​ ​ecclesiastical,​ ​civic,​ ​political,​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​archival​ ​sources​ ​in​ ​and​ ​around​ ​London.​ ​The REED​ ​London​ ​project​ ​combines​ ​materials​ ​from​ ​three​ ​printed​ ​REED​ ​collections​ (
Inns ​
of​ ​
Ecclesiastical​ ​
London​,​ ​and​
Civic​ ​
London​ ​
1558)​,​ ​the​ ​prosopographical​ ​material​ ​from​ ​REED’s
Patrons​ ​
&​ ​
Performances​ ​
(P&P)​,​ ​the​ ​bibliographical​ ​materials​ ​of​ ​the​​
Early​ ​
Modern​ ​
Theatres (EMLoT)​ ​​database,​ ​and​ ​in-progress​ ​and​ ​planned​ ​digital​ ​collections​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​London​ ​area performance​ ​spaces,​ ​most​ ​notably​ ​the​ ​Globe,​ ​Rose,​ ​and​ ​Curtain​ ​theatres​ ​and​ ​Civic​ ​London 1559-1642.

REED​ ​is​ ​an​ ​internationally​ ​renowned​ ​scholarly​ ​project​ ​that​ ​has​ ​worked​ ​to​ ​locate,​ ​transcribe,​ ​and​ ​edit evidence​ ​of​ ​drama,​ ​secular​ ​music,​ ​and​ ​other​ ​communal​ ​entertainment​ ​in​ ​Britain​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Middle Ages​ ​until​ ​1642.​ ​Since​ ​1979​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​published​ ​twenty-seven​ ​printed​ ​collections​ ​of​ ​transcribed records​ ​plus​ ​contextual​ ​materials.​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​long​ ​recognized​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​online​ ​access​ ​to​ ​its resources,​​first​​ with
P&P​​​ and​​​
EMLoT​, ​​and​​ more​​ recently​​ with ​​the ​​born-digital​​ collection​
Staffordshire​. REED​ ​has​ ​wrestled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​balance​ ​between​ ​what​ ​was​ ​once​ ​considered​ ​its​ ​“core”​ ​print​ ​publication activities​ ​and​ ​“adjunct”​ ​digital​ ​efforts,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​migrating​ ​its​ ​data​ ​across​ ​a​ ​succession​ ​of programs​ ​and​ ​formats​ ​from​ ​Basic​ ​and​ ​dBASE​ ​to​ ​TEI​ ​P5​ ​XML​ ​and​ ​MySQL (Hagen,​ ​MacLean,​ ​and​ ​Pasin, 2014).​ ​REED​ ​has​ ​developed​ ​its digital​​ resources ​​in​​ ways ​​that​​ complicate ​​integration (
&P ​​​exists ​​in​​ a ​​Drupal​​instance;​​​
EMLoT ​​​was built​ ​in​ ​a​ ​version​ ​of​ ​Django​ ​that​ ​is​ ​now​ ​out-of-date;​ ​
REED​ ​Staffordshire​ ​was​ ​lightly​ ​tagged​ ​in​ ​TEI​ ​and relies​ ​on​ ​EATSML for entity management, an​ ​XML​ ​format​ ​used​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Entity​ ​Authority​ ​Tool​ ​Set​ ​(EATS)​ ​for​ ​serialisation​ ​of​ ​its​ ​data).​ ​The​ ​components​ ​of​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​must​ ​therefore​ ​first be​ ​made​ ​intra-operable​ ​before​ ​they​ ​can​ ​become​ ​interoperable (Jakacki, 2016).​ ​The​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​CWRC supports​ ​broader​ ​adoption​ ​of​ ​standards​ ​for​ ​TEI​ ​text​ ​markup,​ ​RDF​ ​metadata​ ​specifications,​ ​and named​​ entity ​​aggregation,​​ most ​​immediately​​ with ​​the ​​ingestion​​ of ​
EMLoT ​​​and ​​the​​ printed ​​​
Inns ​​
of Court​​ ​collection.

CWRC​ ​is​ ​an​ ​online​ ​infrastructure​ ​project​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​enable​ ​unprecedented​ ​avenues​ ​for​ ​studying the​ ​words​ ​that​ ​most​ ​move​ ​people​ ​in​ ​and​ ​about​ ​Canada.​ ​Built​ ​with​ ​funding​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Canada Foundation​ ​for​ ​Innovation,​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ ​platform​ ​supports​ ​best​ ​practices​ ​in​ ​the​ ​production​ ​of​ ​online collections,​ ​editions,​ ​born-digital​ ​essays,​ ​anthologies,​ ​collections,​ ​monographs,​ ​articles,​ ​or bibliographies,​ ​and​ ​supports​ ​the​ ​inclusion​ ​of​ ​visual,​ ​audio,​ ​and​ ​video​ ​sources (​About​ ​CWRC/CSÉC).​ ​It​ ​supports collaboration​ ​through​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​interoperable​ ​data​ ​formats​ ​and​ ​interlinking​ ​of​ ​materials,​ ​and​ ​for teams​ ​like​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​provides​ ​invaluable​ ​tools​ ​for​ ​communicating,​ ​tracking​ ​activity,​ ​and workflow.​ ​We​ ​envision​ ​that​ ​as​ ​the​ ​partnership​ ​develops​ ​and​ ​as​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​advances​ ​through production​ ​toward​ ​publication​ ​we​ ​will​ ​take​ ​full​ ​advantage​ ​of​ ​CWRC’s​ ​functionality.​ ​From​ ​the​ ​start​ ​we have​ ​worked​ ​directly​ ​in​ ​CWRC’s​ ​unique​ ​editor,​ ​CWRC-Writer,​ ​which​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to​ ​edit​ ​REED​ ​London records,​ ​essays,​ ​and​ ​bibliographical​ ​material​ ​using​ ​more​ ​diplomatic​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​TEI​ ​P5​ ​XML​ ​markup and​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​creating​ ​semantic​ ​web​ ​annotations​ ​with​ ​RDF​ ​to​ ​identify,​ ​manage,​ ​and​ ​interlink entities​ ​contained​ ​within.​ ​The​ ​platform​ ​is​ ​also​ ​helping​ ​us​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​better​ ​editorial​ ​workflow through​ ​management​ ​of​ ​access​ ​to​ ​data​ ​and​ ​editing​ ​by​ ​role,​ ​team​ ​communications,​ ​tracking​ ​and reporting​ ​of​ ​team​ ​activities.
To​ ​ensure​ ​REED​ ​London’s​ ​stability​ ​and​ ​sustainability​ ​while​ ​extending​ ​its​ ​content​ ​and​ ​value​ ​to​ ​new generations​ ​of​ scholars​ ​the​ ​project​ ​is​ ​being​ ​built​ ​within​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ environment. ​The​ ​scope​ ​of​ ​REED London​ ​would​ ​not​ ​be​ ​possible​ ​without​ ​the​ ​sophisticated,​ ​integrated​ ​platform​ ​that​ ​CWRC​ ​provides. The​ ​focus​ ​of​ ​our​ ​first​ ​year​ ​is​ ​the​ ​design​ ​and​ ​construction​ ​of​ ​a​ ​collaborative​ ​online​ ​production​ ​and publication​ ​environment.​ ​Extending​ ​from​ ​CWRC’s​ ​existing​ ​integrated​ ​content​ ​management​ ​and preservation​ ​system,​ ​the​ ​enhanced​ ​environment​ ​will​ ​accommodate​ ​the​ ​range​ ​of​ ​record​ ​texts, editorial​ ​and​ ​bibliographical​ ​content​ ​from​ ​the​ ​source​ ​materials,​ ​while​ ​a​ ​customized​ ​browser-based CWRC-Writer​ ​platform​ ​will​ ​support​ ​the​ ​team’s​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​developing​ ​online​ ​editorial​ ​collaboration​ ​and review.​ ​The​ ​resulting​ ​streamlined​ ​production​ ​and​ ​publication​ ​environment​ ​will​ ​yield​ ​multi-faceted user-centered​ ​editions,​ ​meaning​ ​that​ ​agile​ ​component​ ​archival​ ​and​ ​editorial​ ​parts​ ​can​ ​cohere according​ ​to​ ​various​ ​criteria​ ​in​ ​response​ ​to​ ​scholars’​ ​research​ ​and​ ​teaching​ ​needs.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​way​ ​we are​ ​establishing​ ​a​ ​platform​ ​that​ ​produces​ ​new​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​“edition”​ ​that​ ​combine​ ​customized​ ​textual​ ​and contextual​ ​materials,​ ​exportable​ ​customized​ ​datasets​ ​and​ ​dynamic​ ​data​ ​visualizations.​ ​It​ ​also​ ​means that​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​realize​ ​the​ ​promise​ ​of​ ​extending​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​these​ ​materials​ ​to​ ​colleagues​ ​in fields​ ​beyond​ ​performance​ ​history,​ ​including​ ​political,​ ​religious,​ ​and​ ​cultural​ ​studies,​ ​and​ ​linguistics.
The​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​CWRC​ ​and​ ​REED​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​for​ ​new​ ​research applications​ ​associated​ ​with​ ​prosopography,​ ​networks,​ ​and​ ​deep​ ​contextualization.​ ​REED​ ​London’s wealth​ ​of​ ​references​ ​to​ ​very​ ​itinerant​ ​individuals​ ​across​ ​contemporaneous​ ​records​ ​means​ ​that​ ​we will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​discern​ ​patterns​ ​through​ ​linking,​ ​analysis,​ ​and​ ​visualization.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​leverage​ ​REED’s named​ ​entities​ ​for​ ​linking​ ​people,​ ​places,​ ​events,​ ​and​ ​organizations.​ ​Our​ ​team​ ​has​ ​healthy​ ​debates about​ ​the​ ​problematic​ ​present​ ​of​ ​linked​ ​data.​ ​Brown​ ​has​ ​stated​ ​that,​ ​“linking​ ​up​ ​with​ ​other​ ​data means​ ​connecting​ ​one​ ​ontology​ ​to​ ​another,​ ​and​ ​this​ ​brings​ ​with​ ​it​ ​a​ ​pressure​ ​toward​ ​generalization rather​ ​than​ ​specificity” (Brown,​ ​Simpson,​ ​et.​ ​al.,​ ​2015).​ ​Cummings​ ​has​ ​posited​ ​that​ ​“being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​seamlessly​ ​integrate​ ​highly complex​ ​and​ ​changing​ ​digital​ ​structures​ ​from​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​heterogeneous​ ​sources​ ​through interoperable​ ​methods​ ​without​ ​either​ ​significant​ ​conditions​ ​or​ ​intermediary​ ​agents​ ​is​ ​a​ ​deluded fantasy” (Cummings​ ​2014).​ ​Still,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​group​ ​we​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​by​ ​publishing​ ​our​ ​ontologies​ ​as​ ​a​ ​means​ ​of​ ​relating​ ​these entities​ ​as​ ​linked​ ​open​ ​data,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​to​ ​larger​ ​dialogues​ ​about​ ​class​ ​and​ ​society in​ ​Britain​ ​-​ ​certainly​ ​over​ ​the​ ​500​ ​years​ ​covered​ ​by​ ​REED​ ​London,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​about​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of Britain​ ​and​ ​Europe.​ ​CWRC​ ​content​ ​will​ ​be​ ​aggregated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Advanced​ ​Research​ ​Consortium (ARC),​ ​and​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​will​ ​benefit​ ​from​ ​that​ ​aggregation,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​anticipate​ ​that​ ​people​ ​who​ ​figure in​ ​the​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​corpus,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Elizabeth​ ​I,​ ​Francis​ ​Bacon,​ ​and​ ​Inigo​ ​Jones​ ​will​ ​be discoverable​ ​by​ ​scholars​ ​searching​ ​for​ ​these​ ​known​ ​figures​ ​across​ ​other​ ​linked​ ​resources.​ ​Perhaps more​ ​important,​ ​REED​ ​London​ ​records​ ​include​ ​extended​ ​references​ ​to​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​Londoners​ ​who were​ ​in​ ​some​ ​way​ ​connected​ ​to​ ​performance,​ ​but​ ​who​ ​were​ ​not​ ​defined​ ​by​ ​that​ ​connection:​ ​civic officials,​ ​guild​ ​members,​ ​lawyers,​ ​clerks,​ ​priests,​ ​etc.​ ​The​ ​work​ ​of​ ​this​ ​project​ ​thus​ ​holds​ ​as​ ​yet unrealized​ ​value​ ​for​ ​a​ ​much​ ​broader​ ​understanding​ ​of​ ​British​ ​historical​ ​subjects.
Working​ ​within​ ​CWRC’s​ ​platform​ ​and​ ​optimizing​ ​CWRC-Writer​ ​has​ ​allowed​ ​the​ ​core​ ​REED​ ​London team​ ​to​ ​move​ ​efficiently​ ​to​ ​an​ ​advanced​ ​planning​ ​phase.​ ​By​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​2017​ ​we​ ​will​ ​have designed​ ​templates​ ​for​ ​all​ ​record​ ​formats​ ​from​​
Inns of Court​ ​​and​ ​mapped​ ​database​ ​fields​ ​from
EMLoT​​ ​to​ ​align​ ​with​ ​the​ ​record​ ​parts​ ​from​ ​the​ ​print​ ​collections.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​have​ ​harvested​ ​a​ ​preliminary “white​ ​list”​ ​of​ ​named​ ​entities​ ​(people,​ ​places,​ ​organizations)​ ​from​ ​all​ ​three​ ​print​ ​​​collection​ ​indexes, P&P,​ ​and​ ​Staffordshire.​ ​Because​ ​of​ ​this​ ​efficient​ ​onramp​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​focus​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​half​ ​of 2018​ ​on​ ​ingesting​ ​data,​ ​records,​ ​and​ ​contextual​ ​materials​ ​from​ ​Inns​ ​of​ ​Court​ ​and​ ​EMLoT.​ ​We​ ​will test​ ​the​ ​REED-specific​ ​entity​ ​list​ ​on​ ​ingested​ ​materials.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​also​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​user-test​ ​the​ ​editorial workflow​ ​system​ ​with​ ​the​ ​larger​ ​project​ ​team​ ​of​ ​REED​ ​editors​ ​and​ ​staff.​ ​By​ ​June​ ​2018​ ​we​ ​will​ ​have begun​ ​semantic​ ​tagging​ ​and​ ​experimentation​ ​with​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ ​HuViz​ ​semantic​ ​web​ ​visualization​ ​tool. At​ ​the​ ​DH​ ​2018​ ​conference​ ​we​ ​will​ ​report​ ​on​ ​further​ ​customization​ ​of​ ​the​ ​CWRC​ interface,​ our​ ​plans for​ ​data​ ​discovery​ ​and​ ​research​ ​collaboration,​ ​and​ ​present​ ​preliminary​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​user-responsive editions​ ​and​ ​data​ ​linkage.


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Conference Info


ADHO / EHD - 2018

Hosted at El Colegio de México, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Mexico City, Mexico

June 26, 2018 - June 29, 2018

340 works by 859 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (13), EHD (4)

Organizers: ADHO