How to make Freebase useful in the digital humanities?

I would  like to lead a session on the application of to the humanities.  Freebase is “open database of the world’s information”, with an API that allows for integration with other applications (such as Zotero).    I’ve been experimenting with using in the realm of government data, specifically to create PolDB, an “IMDB for politicians” (though my progress has been meagre so far.)   I would like to share my experiences on that front, speculate on the usefulness of Freebase for applications in the humanities (particularly art history), and foster a discussion about the application of other “semantically oriented” techniques beyond Freebase.

6 Responses to “How to make Freebase useful in the digital humanities?”

  1. Arden Kirkland Says:

    I’ve always wondered about Freebase – I’m interested to see what you’ve been doing with it. It definitely relates to my interest in “quick and dirty” tools for educators to represent teaching objects with specific data for specific disciplines (of course, quick and clean would be even better).

  2. rdhyee Says:

    Arden — when you say “teaching objects”, do you have a specific format for the data in mind?

  3. Jeanne Kramer-Smyth Says:

    Someone tweeted about wanting to chart when women were first admitted to various medical schools. I decided to go on step further and requested that Freebase add a way to capture ‘gender enrollment’ for all educational institutions. This was added in short order and can be seen in action on this page:

    There appear to now be 29 entries related to gender enrollment:

    This could be used as an example of taking a research question, framing it as structured data and then (for the moment anyway) hoping that people at large populate the data you want.

    I won’t be at THATcamp this year – but couldn’t resist adding to the conversation!

  4. Arden Kirkland Says:

    Raymond – I don’t really have a specific format in mind – I’d have to learn more about how Freebase works to figure that out. I have a database of a historic costume collection that I’m trying to share with students, and I’m experimenting with many different tools. I’ve worked on making my data Dublin Core / VRA compatible, but there’s a lot of data that doesn’t fit neatly into those formats. I think more flexibility is needed for adding information that is specific to what my colleagues and I want to teach about these objects.

  5. patrickmj Says:

    Love the idea! I haven’t explored FreeBase much at all, and would like to hear about how you’ve used their APIs

  6. ghbrett Says:

    I’m interested in FreeBase as well. Thanks for suggesting it.