The idea for Bibliopedia started as a result of a collaborative dialogue on HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), a digital scholars forum, in particular, the discussion “Digital Textuality and Tools” in 2009 by Michael Widner, a scholar and a PhD candidate in English and Medieval studies at the University of Texas, Austin. Despite his deeply embedded Humanities background Michael closely followed technology and the way it could be deployed in relevant and effective ways for pedagogical and scholarly purposes in the Humanities (Lamb). Through this discussion he began to explore the possibilities of creating a new digital tool to meet the needs of the humanities scholarship specifically. With the help and advice of co-creator and lead developer Jason Yandell and principle investigator Geraldine Heng, Michael determined to choose Drupal as basis content management system due to its rich functionality and wide array of extensions combined with stability, semantic web compatibility and ease of use. Jason Yandell successfully developed the Bibliopedia software capable to crawl scholarly repositories such as the Library of Congress and JSTOR articles. The team managed to integrate ParsCit software into Bibliopedia tool with the purpose to extract citations from full-text scholarly articles in PDF and plain text formats. Then they created a Bibliopedia web site which cross-references scholarly texts about a single work of medieval literature, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville.
Bibliopedia digital tool is still in its prototype and testing period, however with well-developed technical infrastructure aimed at creating a humanities-centered digital collaboratory. In this digital space humanists will have the possibility to have a deeper, more multi-layered examination of a single work, book, material or any specific topic and to assemble an online community of researchers studying that particular work or topic.
The idea of Bibliopedia tool is to extract metadata about works cited, convert that data into a semantic web format, aggregate different repositories, and then display the results on a wiki-style web-site for the scholarly community to verify, annotate, add to, elaborate and discuss (“Bibliopedia”). The mission of the project is to unite under a single umbrella the often separate scholarly silos of information and research in the humanities on a particular work or topic.
The developers of Bibliopedia aim at combining possibilities of enriching scholarly knowledge and information circle through semantic web automated cross-references of various sources and crowd-sourcing for correction, elaboration and discussion encouragement. According to Michael Widner, the humanists need a tool that helps them discover, contextualize, and discuss scholarship, not just see how many times it has been cited (Widner). Google Scholar and other similar ad-delivery databases lack this scholarly orientation towards the context of collecting information and discussion.
The proposition of Bibliopedia tool is to collect all that knowledge written and expressed in different places to a single cross-road point to provide the multiple directions for we as scholars or students in this information overload internet age and corporate scholarship locked behind prestigious journals must often limit and disqualify our research results.
At the moment Bibliopedia focuses on journal articles and books, but it can easily incorporate other sources of information. Widner mentions in his article Towards a Future of Humanities Research his experimental work with the inputting a catalogue of video games at Stanford University Library through linked data system and allowing wiki-based platform.
Bibliopedia. N. p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.
Lamb, Erin. “Digital Textuality & Tools.” HASTAC. N. p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.
Widner, Michael. Bibliopedia in Depth Interview. 8 Feb. 2014. Skype.
Widner, Michael. “Towards a Future of Humanities Research -- Bibliopedia, Linked Data, and the Problem with Silos.” HASTAC. N. p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.