Pseudo-Entities: Episodes, Serials, and Titles

Matthew Milner: August 13, 2017 at 11:15

Though six entity types offer considerable flexibility for modeling the past, Nanohistory also employs three pseudo-entity types: Episode, Serial, and Title. Episode and Serial are sub-types of terms, reserved for specific kinds of proper names, historical phenomena, and serial publications, respectively. Titles are a form of event described by an organization, the verb 'has', and a term with a sub-type of 'office' or 'position'. Each has their own colour, and in many instances function like entities in search forms, as well as visualization tools.

While it seems rather obvious to have reserved types for historical phenomena and serial publications, Titles as events can seem awkward. Nanohistory's model, however, is designed to allow for the study of the past in a series of ways: the study of group formation, and organization, in particular institutions, is an essential element of historical scholarship. Titles like 'King of England' or 'Chancellor of Germany' are attributes or properties of communities or organizations, not merely a designation given to an individual. Despite what Louis XIV might have inferred, there are no kings without kingdoms, and kingdoms. There may be a period where a kingdom lacks a specific individual in that role, or perhaps has more than one claimant, but a kingdom has a king by definition. Not all organizations are so easily defined, and acquired and drop offices or positions - royal households and bureaucracies are infamous for how they acquire new offices and positions over time. The increasing organizational complexity of collective agents means we need a way of tracking when someone holds a title, aside from a name or an occupation or is employed. Treating Titles as events permits the study of organizations, and lets us track contestation of who held what Title, when, where, and for how long.