Entities

Networked Events
Entities
Verbs
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Events
Dates & Time
Nano-history's data model utilizes six entities to represent agents and objects within historical interactions. These fall into two classifications - whether they are simple or complex; and named or unnamed. These distinctions are relatively straightforward. Complex entities are composite, or networks, in their own right, while simple entities represent a single record. An important aspect of Nano-history's theoretical model is that proper names are extrinsic to the representation of data. While this isn't fully expressed in our data model, we've preserved it when dealing with events in particular. Consequently, entities can be either named or unnamed, meaning a proper 'name' is either documented as part of the entity, or it can be assigned later. When it comes to events, this allows users to designate several names for a single interaction, something which is essential to the study of the politics of history itself.

Person

Classifications:
Simple & Named
Primary Fields:
forename, middlenames, surname, prefix, suffix, gender
Secondary Fields:
birth date, place of birth, death date, place of death
This data type records an individual agent as an historical actor. Like other named nodes, their identity is primarily denoted as a name, and as such they fall under the broad class of 'named' entities. A person typically represents someone lived or is living; however, it is possible to trace fictitious individuals as well, such as characters, pseudonyms, etc. The person model does not include titles, but does include prefixes such as 'Sir', 'Lady', 'Reverend', etc. and suffixes that can be epithets or other designations such as 'Jr.','The Elder'. In the case of locative surnames, 'of' and other prepositions ('de','la','von','van', etc.) are should be recorded under the surname or lastname, rather than the middlename - i.e. Hugh of Lincoln's surname would be 'of Lincoln'. In the case of pseudonyms or other identities, it is important to distinguish between orthographic variations (which can be recorded as 'othername', a variant spelling etc), and actual pseudonyms. Pen names or other personal names are counted as distinct identities, requiring a distinct record - Mark Twain and Samuel Clements are distinct persons in Nano-history, but they can be linked as 'SameAs'. This preserves both identities as historical persons, but also allows scholars to document contestation over the nature of the relationship, as well as the appearance and reference to one person over another.

Organization

Classifications:
Simple & Named
Primary Fields:
type, organization
Secondary Fields:
foundation date, dissolution date
An organization is a corporate entity, usually described in legal terms through a charter, act of incorporation, or founding of some kind or another. It should be conceived of as a distinct and discreet entity which could - incorporated or not - be sued or clearly defined in a court of law within a jurisdiction. Organizations can range from a small partnership of one or more people (in which case the name might be an issue!) to societies, businesses, associations, institutions, and communities. They can have founding or creation, as well as disbanding or dissolution dates.

Place

Classifications:
Simple & Named
Primary Fields:
type, place name
Secondary Fields:
coordinates, foundation date, part of another place
A place is a name that describes a specific spatial location. It is not a space itself per se, but the name used to denote a given locale. This means that multiple places can overlap the same space, and that places themselves can arise and fall out of usage as needed over time. A good example is Gdansk and Danzig - distinct places, but occupying overlapping (yet differing) spatial coordinates over time. These places are spatially synonymous in many ways, but occupy distinct identities within their given cultural spheres, making them distinct entities. They can be indicated as 'sameAs' if needed, but the relationship might be more complex than simple predication. Places, consequently, can move between and within other places, such as to reorganization of territorial jurisdictions, or the capture of a territory by another political power. A place name is not necessarily the same value as a community or organization that may inhabit or use it. Similarly a place might not be exactly the same as a building, which is properly a 'thing'.

Event

Classifications:
Complex & Unnamed
Primary Fields:
agent, verb, object
Secondary Fields:
indirect objects, source, start date, end date, location
An event traces an interaction between an agent and an object as a unnamed directed graph. The resulting unnamed graph is given a unique identifier, which in turn allows it to be used as a node in subsequent interactions. Events themselves remain unnamed, as naming an event is a critical part of historical writing and analysis. It is highly contentious. As such, Nano-History also allows users to create 'names' as simple entities under which they can group and collate events, along with people, places, organizations, and things.

Thing

Classifications:
Complex & Named
Primary Fields:
type, title, date [text], date, series, number, volume, pages
Secondary Fields:
agents [author, etc.], place, part of another thing
Things are the most complex entities stored in Nanohistory as they are representations of networks of activity. Unlike bibliographic or archival catalogs, in which an entry is a representation of a particular object or holding, in Nanohistory a 'thing' is a representation of the action of production which results in an object. It's a subtle but important distinction. What this means in the end is that all things are in fact a network of events that come together to document the nature of an item or artifact that has a particular name. We're not interested in the production of unnamed things like spoons or a bridge, or commodities like wheat, paint supplies, or bullets. These can be noted as 'literals'. Things, however, are objects that human beings make and name, such as works of art, literature, buildings, music, etc. In this sense the name is intrinsic to the object itself, it describes it. But seeing a thing not as a representation of the object, but as the action which produces it, allows us to track the agency of those involved in its production, where it was made, and when. In other words, its production as a complex networked series of events, rather than as simple text strings of information.

Term

Classifications:
Simple & Unnamed
Primary Fields:
term
Secondary Fields:
We're using 'term' to describe the most nebulous category of entities within Nanohistory. It includes abstract and concrete common nouns, like 'cow' or 'murder', which are either used as literals in a RDF setting (here's the RDF definition of a literal), or as topics describing another entity. These are, in some ways, objects and things that are unnamed, or wherein a particular name is insignificant. It also includes proper names for historical terms or concepts like 'The Reformation', or 'astronomy'. Like abstract and concrete common nouns, they are simple text strings, but are not people, places, or constructed or built things. An historical term allows for the creation of contested and complex labeling of collations and groups of historical events, agents, and artifacts according to a particular scholar's views, or a user's need. What one user or scholar might deem as 'The Reformation' is undoubtedly different than another scholar's. Consequently, this entity type is as important to the historiographical aims of Nanohistory as the event, and the networked event model. It is a label, not merely a descriptor like a tag. When considering something like "St Paul's Cathedral" the referent might actually be a network of a place (spatial location), organization (corporation / chapter), and thing (building). This seems overly wrought, but is in fact what we do linguistically - we collapse complex relationships then labeled by a 'name', and let our interlocutors work out the specifics from the context. In this case a 'term' provides a means of grouping entities together without verbs or specific interactions, allowing us to refer to the complex network or topics with a single referent. This becomes historically significant when we consider a) whether 'The Reformation' is an 'event' or an historical 'period' and b) when an historical event or interaction itself forms part of a series of events or a type of event that has an established 'name' or identity. The easiest example of the latter is a legal trial, especially in the contexts of common law where precedent must be traceable to particular trials and instances. Legal cultures have developed naming and identification systems for trials as events which allow them to refer precisely to past rulings, and evidentiary processes.

Pseudo-Entities

Pseudo-entities are properly one entity type, but act like another, for various reasons. They lie in between proper entity types, and faciliate certain kinds of relationships.

Serial

Classifications, Primary, & Secondary Fields:
same as term
These are serial publications. This pseudo-entity is a special type of 'term' that declares a name, and allows users to group 'things' under it as related publications. This operates as the dataset for the serial publications that are necessary for bibliographic records of articles, etc.

Title

Classifications, Primary, & Secondary Fields:
same as event
A personal title denotes a complex social relationship to a community, a group, or a social system. In other words it is not simply a name, but an event. It can describe an office, an honorific, etc. As such, titles are not stored merely as names or terms in NanoHistory, but rather as events associated to the organizations or communities to which they belong. The platform observes the creation of these kinds of relationships, which are created when a term having a type of an 'office, title, or rank' is associated with an organization of some kind. A good example is 'Duke of Monmouth' actually consists of 'The Duchy of Monmouth->has->Duke'. Likewise, the 'Archbishop of Canterbury' is 'The Province of Canterbury has Archbishop'. This allows multiple people to be office holders or have the title.

Episode

Classifications, Primary, & Secondary Fields:
same as term
An episode is a specific subtype term which acts as a name for an historical phenomenon. It can be as precise as a moment in time, like an assassination or the planting of a tree; or as broad as an historical period, like 'Medieval Europe'. Episodes operate in tandem with networked events, allowing users to label complex interactions as discrete phenomena, or to trace the movement of names for discrete phenomena throughout historical commentary without having to reference the specific contents of the phenomena. Like all other terms, they can be linked with one another, forming trees of connected, hierarchical, historical happenings. Because they describe networked events and phenomena, they permit the comparison of how historians describe historical events - what gets included, for instance, under an episode, might differ widely from scholar to scholar.