Last December, I was lucky to participate in the Pelagios Commons Linked Pasts meeting in Madrid. My report on the meeting is over here.

With Matje van de Camp and my Western Sydney colleagues, I’m continuing research that investigates and improves infrastructure resources for early modernists who want to do digital spatial history. This ties into my own intellectual history and history of technology interests.

What can we do with newly digitized geographic reference texts to learn more about early modern cultures of geographic knowledge?

The Pelagios Commons team offers Resource Development grants to develop new tools for leveraging geodata in historical sources. Our proposal focuses on experimenting with locating places mentioned in Diderot’s Encyclopédie. If we can isolate mentions of place names, we will be able to analyze how place is represented in this key Enlightenment text. “Where” is the Encyclopédie? Which authors wrote about which places? How does the geography of the Encyclopédie change from volume to volume (e.g., over time)?

LOD - align with classical, medieval, and modern gazetteers

If we have enriched gazetteers and the ability to locate early modern places in digital platforms, what kind of research can we do that has been impossible before?

More on this in a later post, related to my book project. For now, it is worthwhile to indicate that big digital projects involving thousands of locations have been beyond the scope of most individual researchers in early modern studies. The perpetual problem of time in digital projects has meant that it is a) not worth the investment for most people or b) even possible to make the investment to follow through on a digital project that would require thousands of hours of data entry merely to create metadata for period-specific places.

Pelagios Commons Proposal Summary