Converting British Trench Map Coordinates

Mar
05

The First World War took many by surprise. The speed of the German advance and the expectation of a short war meant that no large scale maps of mainland Europe were available. Another problem with war preparation in that era is that mapping another country was a certain sign of impending invasion, to the point that official surveyors would sometimes get arrested by the local authorities for spying.

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US Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as SKOS RDF

Sep
18

US Joint Chiefs BadgeI have converted the US Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms into an RDF SKOS dictionary that can be used to link RDF documents into an authoritive term list or to disambiguate terms.

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Wikiwar - And now for something completely different

Sep
17

Wikiwar LogoWikiwar is a new project that takes the crowd sourcing approach to the review of archives from the Second World War. Currently it is in alpha trials but the KML demo posted on the website looks very promising.

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Military Ontology Available

Jun
28

File Army-officer-icon.png from Wikimedia by RionThe Muninn Military and Organization ontologies have been released in OWL format on the Muninn RDF server and comments are welcome. These provide ontological terms for the markup of information about historical data and they provide more depth in terms of supporting changes to and the lineage of entities.

One of the ongoing problems with RDF markup and ontologies is that most of them are meant to support the expression of facts about the world as it currently is and not as it was or will be. This can create some issues in that most data is meant to be true at only one point in time.

The ontology includes support for military ranks, roles, organization types and service-specific chains of commands. Limited NATO rank equivalencies are provided and the country specific rank instances are being worked on. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

 

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Graves Ontology Available

Feb
25

Grave of an Unknown SoldierA new OWL ontology has been released for the RDF markup of graves, human remains and commemorative monuments. It supports complex relationships between the remains, the grave and the different markers in use; recording the movement of remains is also possible as well as the linkage to the identity of the deceased.

The documentation is available here and the ontology in OWL format here. While the ontology is meant to support Muninn's data, it can be used on a stand alone basis for other projects.

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Talk at Cambridge Computer Lab

Feb
10

Do a Billion Documents Change the First World War?

Shelley Hulan, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Waterloo

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Authority, Statistics and RDF

May
31

The recent discussion on the LOD-LAM website have prompted me to begin writhing about some of the data available on Muninn and how it is generated. Creating a database from the contents of war archives nearly a century old presents some special challenges, some old some new. Jonathan Rochkind' flippant remark 'Sorry Linked Open Data people' was made in jest and drew a lot of responses. But it in the end you can't say that text-mining is better than linked open data anymore than apples are better than submarines as they don't perform the same function. Similarly, the problem of interpreting archival contents is central to Muninn's role as well as the question of what is an authoritative source (at least in the knowledge sense). There is no question that "applying statistical analysis text-mining ‘best guess’ type techniques, provides more relationships than dbpedia alone does".

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SPARQL and Linked Open Data

May
25

After a few hiccups with the SPARQL database and the web front end, the Muninn website will be undergoing some major re-work. I'll update this blog post as the new interface features go online. Update: Feb 23, 2012 - The SPARQL server at http://rdf.muninn-project.org/sparql is answering queries.

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About the splash page

Sep
10

John McCraeThe splash page was created using pixelize written by Paul Wilkins using the images of documents from the Australian Red Cross, Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau as a pixel source. The represented portraits are from of the people of that era of which a good picture was available with the right contrast for pixelization. The first image is of Lt.-Col. John McCrae who wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields". The image was taken from the Library and Archives Canada photostream on flickr, and is cropped to remove his dog from the picture and scaled to enhance his facial features. This is followed by an image of General Currie, the commander of Canadian Troops in France, with a pixel size of 25. The image was sourced from the Library and Archives Canada photostream on flickr and did not need to be manipulated. Major Georges P. Vanier follows using an image from the Library and Archives Canada photostream on flickr, the image was cropped and resized to focus on the profile and enhaced the contrast. The image of General Sir Samuel Hughes was not changed. The image of Field Marshal Douglas Haig is curtosy of the Wikipedia Commons and was enlarged and re-centered. The landstrum infantryman with the spiked (the spike was meant to catch cavalry swords) helmet is cropped from a postcard scan on flickr from the Great War Flickr Pool, the württembergisch infantryman is also from another postcard scan in the same flickr pool.

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First data dump from Library and Archives Canada

May
19

The first data dump from Library and Archives Canada has been shipped to the Sharcnet data-center and loaded onto the cluster for processing. The data contains scanned images of the enlistment papers of Canadian Expeditionary Force soldiers (about a million images) and the full personnel file of about 200 soldiers (about twenty thousand images). The hard drive was first picked up in Ottawa and then traveled with a Muninn staffer to Waterloo, Ontario to one of the Sharcnet machine rooms.

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