The most complicated entities involved in the exchange of learned letters are the people who exchange them and the networks created by the exchange. This complexity is compounded by the fact that people and networks cannot really be separated: typically, the exchange of letters rests directly or indirectly on pre-existing networks of social exchange, so correspondence networks can be fully understood only with reference to data documenting non-epistolary as well as epistolary contact. After identifying research questions and drawing inspiration from previous work (I), WG 2 will devise a data model for the prosopographical information required to answer these questions and an input form as clear, simple, intuitive, and flexible as possible (II). It will then identify major electronic sources of relevant structured data, enable access to them (III), and design and create tools to help scholars reconcile and fill in gaps in their data in a semi-automated fashion (IV). The final task will be to devise tools for visualizing and analysing data sets — from individual people to multi-dimensional networks — in order to answer their research questions (V).
WG2 will be responsible also for establishing the technical grounding of this infrastructure as a whole, which will be based on the following general principles:
- Use open Linked Data data models and modularize tools behind open APIs where possible to maximize flexibility and reusability;
- Where possible, build upon open source tools and release own contributions as open source;
- In the future, following these two considerations will enable
- new actors to join the network more easily,
- new visualization and other tools to be developed on top of the framework with less effort,
- gradual improvement and evolution of the tools and infrastructure itself, and
- gradual improvement of data quality.
WG 2 is led by Eero Hyvönen, Professor in both the Department of Media Technology at Aalto University and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki.