I’ve been thinking about the nature of historical events, and how to model them: space and time, agents and entities, facts versus interpretations. This problem is central to several projects I’m working on.

Yesterday I read a paper by Shaw et al., “LODE: Linking Open Descriptions of Events”, that compares existing event ontologies such as CIDOC CRM, the ABC Ontology, and the Event Ontology and synthesizes an interchange ontology for events. Shaw later developed PeriodO, a “gazetteer of scholarly definitions of historical, art-historical, and archaeological periods”.

These things can quickly stray into philosophy. As an implementor my goal is to capture the semantics of events well enough to visualize them. The British Museum’s ResearchSpace group has worked in this area, as has Eero Hyvönen’s Semantic Computing Research Group, among others.

The term “event” has many connotations for me. My graduate research focused on event-driven servers, where an “event” is an incoming request, a message passed between processing elements, a closure, or a signal from the operating system. I worked in a distributed systems group, which at the time was focusing on distributed event-based systems. In those contexts “event” has a purely technical meaning. I’ll admit I was more comfortable with that than epistemological questions, but I still enjoy the latter.