Dates & Time
Events lie at the heart of Nano-History, and at the heart of events are verbs which describe the actions of a particular agent. Nano-History's approach to historical data is to see each interaction as a statement or assertion, not unlike a simple sentence, where verbs play a critical role. That said, which verbs, and what kind of verbs we can use becomes a bit tricky. Unlike other types of information, Nano-History employs a well-defined and restricted list of verbs. We've done this for several reasons: first, given the possible tense variations, we've kept verbs to the simple perfect or past tense in English. This allows to control historical distance by use of dates data, rather than tense. Second, we've ruled out verbs that have to do with key elements of historical agency, namely feelings, internal reasoning or knowledge, etc. An historical document might well indicate that Tom Smith 'loved' London, but that's an assertion of the author of the text, who may or may not be Tom Smith. There's no clear way to measure epistemological or affective veracity, so we've left these verbs out. What's left are verbs that document concrete interactions between agents, objects, and places in which they live. Although the list is restricted, users can document alternatives they think might be useful for future revisions.
We hope that as users add events, they'll also make suggestions for new verbs to help refine this first draft. We've opted for a list of fairly agnostic (English only sorry! please talk to us!) verbs that focus on interaction and relationships. At the moment our controlled vocabulary or list contains 705 distinct verbs representing 2735 possible types of interactions. We've grouped some of these into predefined sets or 'verb groups' to provide a quick start for event typologies.