Berkeley Prosopography Services (BPS): a toolkit supporting humanities research
The work of social, economic, and intellectual historians depends on identifying participants in communities, transactions, and processes being investigated. Berkeley Prosopography Services supports research workflows through abstracting and implementing the probabilistic heuristics commonly applied in the process of disambiguating namesakes in text corpora, by offering the user the opportunity to modify the heuristics to explore "what if" scenarios, and to visualize the results in interactive graphs. Here, we consider the contributions and challenges of developing and applying this approach to humanities research.
The presenters are project manager and technical lead, respectively, of Berkeley Prosopography Services.
Laurie Pearce's research is focused on the social and economic history of Mesopotamia in the first millennium BCE. She directs Hellenistic Babylonia: Texts, Images and Names, part of the digital text consortium On-line Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (Oracc). She is a lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, which has an active presence in the Berkeley digital humanities community.
Patrick Schmitz is associate director of research IT architecture and strategy, providing IT strategy and solutions in support of campus research; and program director of Berkeley Research Computing. He has provided technical leadership to build IT solutions supporting museums and faculty collections, various research projects, and education, with an emphasis on data science and semantic technologies (NLP and statistical linguistics, social media and annotation, etc.).