Making the connection: a first functioning prototype of the PBMP

 Making the connection: a first functioning prototype of the PBMP

In a previous post I described the frustration of simultaneously succeeding in building multiple components of the PBMP and being unable to see how they fit together as “trying to grow a hand from the fingers in”.  Today, in a brief, but very effective meeting, all those working on the different parts of the project discussed how the GIS and bibliography, in their current states, will be joined together. What follows is a “meeting minutes” style documentation of our conversation, set out here for two purposes:

  1. To remind us of our thoughts and plans at this stage of the project
  2. To easily share those ideas with a wider community for comment and criticism.

The meeting began with a quick recitation by me (Poehler) on the status of each part of the project and what I thought needed to be accomplished by the end of the week. The deadline is not arbitrary: I will be presenting the PBMP as one part of a workshop I’ll give at the University of Texas at Austin’s Graduate Student Conference entitled “Digital Archaeology at an urban scale.” The poster and schedule can be found at the bottom of this post.

Bibliography Team: Ron Peterson and Aaron Rubinstein have been working to transform our massive spreadsheet of citation information (currently 13,040 completed references) into a format acceptable for importation by Zotero. Thus far the idea has been to condense the spreadsheet – originally designed for a MODS implementation – into Dublin Core and covert that to RIS format. We’ve wanted to have mirrored Zotero and Omeka citation databases, and since Omeka can import via Zotero, the challenge therefore is to get things into Zotero. Zotero can import from a number of formats, but RIS seems the best thus far. Aaron is working on that now.

Mapping Team: Alexander Stepanov and I have been working to publish online a solid, clean, and complete first map of the Pompeii. This will be a basic map for navigation, with some important attribute information included. The navigation and attribute functions relate to the Phase One and Phase Two maps described earlier on this blog. In many ways, this first published map is nearly done, but a few pieces remain to clean up. The first of these is to design and configure the what information will appear and what it will look like when a user clicks on a place in the map. Pop-up windows in ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online are dynamic and scriptable, but with only a subset of all the data available, we’ll need to strike a balance between what we can show now and what is possible eventually. A second pressing problem is the need to be able to zoom as far into the map as possible. Because the features of Pompeii are naturally at the human scale rather than geographical scale, users need to be able to zoom in to 1:50 scale or even lower to examine those features. Currently, ArcGIS online only scales to about 1:1000. Finally, I am working feverishly to complete the integration of  information from the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianum II (“Toponmy” section) with a new spatial dataset. What is driving this is the symmetry of presenting that data at the University of Texas at Austin, which published the CTP volumes thirty years ago.

After writing the above, I’m compelled expand into a little editorializing: Though it is only the first of what will be many versions of our map and mapping data, the importance of publishing this map should not be underestimated. Because we will allow users to download the entire map package – map and data together – this will be the first time a standard, fully digital map of Pompeii has been available. The CAD plan that underlies our GIS and the effort that scholars and the superintendency put into it should not be dismissed, but  it is not available publicly. Remarkably, this will be the first major cartographic advance on the topography of Pompeii since the publication of the RICA maps of the Corpus Topographicum Pompeianum thirty years ago in 1984.

Natural Language Processing Team: As we await a new batch of full-text objects from HathiTrust, Tiger Wu and David Smith have parsed the three volumes of the Nova Bibliotheca Pompeiana graciously published online by Arbor Sapientiae, extracting from each citation its number and all the addresses listed by L. Garcia y Garcia as being relevant to that citation. You can see that rough, but valuable tabulation here as tab separated values. We plan to use this as a first iteration of a joining table that will link bibliographic references to places in Pompeii with its digital spatial representations. Additionally, because we do have the basic information for works held by the Internet Archive – especially their permalinks – our plan is to integrate that information with our Zotero and Omeka catalogs so that, whenever possible, a researcher can go from finding a place to be interesting in the map to reading about that place in only a matter seconds.

When this prototype is working later this week, I will post some links to it. Expect also to read what I learn from demoing the PBMP with the folks at UT.

– EP

Rebuilding the City Poster