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Report 1.6: Missouri-Kansas Conflict Relationship Viewer

Posted By Kimmy Szeto, Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Originally Posted to the Task Force Group Blog By William R. Vanden Dries, Friday, December 12, 2014

 

The Kansas City Public Library, in partnership with a number of other organizations, created a website that utilizes Semantic Web ideas to “view connections between people, places, groups and events” [1] relating to the Missouri-Kansas Border War (1854-1865). The Missouri-Kansas Conflict website offers an interactive visual representation of these connections, as well as an interactive timeline, interactive maps, scholarly essays, digitized historical documents and photographs, lesson plans for educators, and keyword/faceted searching. The various features are seamlessly integrated through the use of linked data. For example, when viewing a digitized letter on one of the website’s pages, the website’s “relationship viewer” displays people, groups, places, and events directly related to the selected letter.

The relationship viewer itself resembles the visual arrangement of entities illustrated in many linked data models, including those in the BIBFRAME report. Entities are represented as large icons, and the relationships between entities are represented by arrows overlaid with a succinct text tag (e.g. Lived In, Inhabited By, Fought Against).

 

Relationship Viewer Charles Jennison.JPG 

Figure 1. Selected example from the Missouri-Kansas Conflict website's relationship viewer.

 

Clicking on any of the large entity icons in the viewer rearranges the icons. The selected icon shifts to the middle of the viewer and becomes the nucleus of a new linked data graph.

There is one notable difference between the Missouri-Kansas Conflict project’s linked data model and the BIBFRAME model. The Missouri-Kansas model is centered on four primary entities: people, places, events, and groups. The Missouri-Kansas relationship model does not include creative works as primary entities. Instead, creative works and other evidential records are included as “proof” of the relationships between the four primary entities. By clicking on the text tag that describes any given relationship, the title of the historical document proving that relationship is displayed as a link that takes the user to a page with more metadata about the document. For example, if the user were to click on the text “Fought In” between “Charles R. Jennison” and “Price’s Raid” in the illustration above, links to two documents are displayed: “From James Griffing To My Dear Wife” and “Report On Price’s Raid.”

Even though historical documents and creative works are not used as primary entities in the linked data graph, these documents could be linked out to external bibliographic and authority data. It is unclear if the project is already using Library of Congress, VIAF, or any other authority data. However, as the library, archive, and museum communities increasingly implement linked data, it would greatly benefit the users of the Missouri-Kansas site if the project’s linked data is integrated with external linked data. A soldier’s data on this site could link out to the same soldier’s data on a U.S. military site. The timeline data on this site could link out to other Civil War timeline data in a “mash up” site. And, while there were few references to music on this site, some of the soldiers that fought in the conflict might have been musicians. Perhaps their data could be linked with linked open historical musician data.

 

[1] Quote taken from the Missouri-Kansas Conflict website: http://www.civilwaronthewesternborder.org/content/relationship-viewer (accessed December 12, 2014)

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