Information Technology in the Humanities Made Effective




НазваниеInformation Technology in the Humanities Made Effective
Дата03.02.2016
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Information Technology in the Humanities Made Effective


Hookk Daria Yurievna

Head of the Department of computer and information technologies

The State Hermitage museum

Address: Dvortsovaya nab.34,

190000 St.-Petersburg ,Russia

Tel.: (812) 1109084

FAX: (812) 3119009

E-mail: hookk@hermitage.ru


Dolukhanov Pavel Markovich

Professor

School of Historic Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne,

NE1 7RU, UK

E-mail: pavel.dolukhanov@newcastle.ac.uk


Mazurkevich Andrei Nikolaevich

Deputy Head of the Depatment of the Eastern Europe and Siberia archaeology

The State Hermitage museum

Address: Dvortsovaya nab.34,

190000 St.-Petersburg, Russia

Tel.: (812) 3121966

FAX: (812) 3119009

E-mail: oaves@hermitage.ru


The break-through in the development of the information technologies has brought to light apparent discrepancies between the advanced technology and the backward state of theoretical research in the area of computer linguistics. Existing concepts in architecture of storage-and-retrieve systems need a drastic revision, in view of the progress attained in the development of new computing instruments. This became particularly apparent in the sphere of the Humanities. On the one hand, the recent technological progress has facilitated the solution of numerous outstanding problems. On the other, the conservative stereotyped concepts often stood in the way of further progress. The design and successful implementation of such systems in the Humanities remain problematic, notwithstanding the technological breakthrough. First of all, this fact is explained by necessity of developer to be a skilful person in application domain, knowing the fundamentals of system analysis and logic. Unfortunately, the tailored-made and expensive products catered for the solution of concrete problems (‘the customer is always right’ approach) usually fail to provide a wider perspective. The development of such products often becomes the companies’ prestige token, the question of profitability of these projects being usually ignored. The alternative consisting either in DIU or the adaptation of a ready-made product is normally resolved in favour of the latter. This attitude is justified, when one deals with standard problems without considerable variations. Yet faced with an interactive process that implies unlimited demands and informal logic, the standard solution might hardly satisfy the customer. The costs of research, development and the testing of the software product are shockingly high. Yet the cost of adaptation of a ready-made product may be even higher, to the satisfaction of mass-scale software developers. Monopoly of the software developers well established on the market became quite conspicuous at international IT exhibitions and forums. The only possible way out consist in the wide proliferation of basic knowledge on IT and data management [3].

Two solutions may be envisaged. First, it is the IT training of Humanity workers. Second, which became recently increasingly popular, consists in the development of a multi-levelled Information System, including at each level, the experts in all areas: from the problem setting to the final delivery of the product with the accompanying training.

Special research groups are being set up at museums and art galleries. These groups are targeted at the expert problem statement, specification of requirements, the choice and adaptation of the standard software aimed at the solution of concrete problems. In the optimal case this may lead to the independent development of an experimental model of a specialized database. Prolonged experience of problem solving in a concrete area may result in the identification of fundamental problems and suggesting the strategies of their solution. In a more general case one might recommend either a step-by-step algorithm for the professional software development, or the use of ready-made products.

Our aim consisted in the development and management of a database-linked information storage and retrieval system for the materials collected in the course of a interdisciplinary field project targeted at archaeological sites in North-Western Russia (RFFI Grant No 02-06-80318: ‘Multidisciplinary Investigations of the Transition to Agriculture in North-Western Russia’). At the present stage our research included the detailed analysis of the environmental and cultural setting that arose in North-Western Russia during the 3rd millennium BC and which contributed to the transition to agriculture and stock-breeding in that region. The Western Dvina River basin was chosen as a case study area. Data storage of both archaeological and geological data on key sites and sequences [6; 2] in graphic and non-graphic format was carried out with the use of GIS database concept which largely facilitates the rapid search, retrieval and management of both archaeological and environmental information. The products include GIS interactive archaeological/landscape maps with inbuilt databases.

This problem necessitates a state-of-the art approach towards model building in the framework of a relational database and normalized relations (at least in the third normal form). The solution of the problem includes the development of a conceptual model for the database: a logical structure reflecting the connections between the system components. The strongest connections are found between the radiometric dates, archaeological assemblages and geologic strata. The dates obtained via the application of geological and physical techniques are interfaced with the archaeological (stylistic) estimates of age.

The development of a metalanguage for coded description of archaeological artifacts forms yet another important aspect of the chosen methodology. Our approach is aimed at the retrieval of possibly complete information embedded in the artifacts, its optimization and release of a novel information. Our approach is based on the standard specification [5], which enables one to avoid the substitution of the object description by the files of typological variables. This hierarchical model of the data description, as distinct from the ‘flat’ code files, includes the complete description of an object in many-dimensional space, as well as the search and retrieval wit the use of any parameters.

The suggested storage and retrieval system enables one to present the material in a format of both the complete description of archaeological objects and as group description of entire classes of artifacts, identified by the preceding archaeological research [4]. Environmental evidence (Geochemistry, Palaeobotany, pollen analysis etc. is presented in form of the authors’ documents (tables, charts and photographs), as the most adequately reflecting the data.

The further development of the system implies the comprehensive statistical processing with the use of fuzzy analysis [1] and GIS technique. This necessitates the use of open standard database (CORBA). The volume and the variety of the stored information (both graphic and non-graphic) will cause then transition from the office applications of MS Access type, to high-level technologies, such as Oracle.

The formal description of archaeological data, and the conceptual and functional principles of the relational database developed on its base, form an important contribution to the methodology of archaeological and environmental research.


  1. Гук Д.Ю., Гук Ю.Б., Мазуркевич А.Н. Нечеткие множества и размытая логика в задачах диагностического анализа неполных массивов недостоверной информации. Надежность систем энергетики: экономические и информационные аспекты. Методические вопросы исследования надежности больших систем энергетики. Вып.49. - СПб., 1997, С.252-260.

  2. Гук Д.Ю., Зайцева Г.И., Мазуркевич А.Н. Радиоуглеродное датирование и перспективы дендрохронологического анализа неолитических памятников Ловатско-Двинского междуречья. СПб, 2002 (в печати).

  3. Лебедев А.В., Ноль Л.Я. АДИТ в системе непрерывного образования. Материалы международной конференции "Электронные изображения и визуальные искусства" 2001 (EVA'2001). Центр ПИК и Государственная Третьяковская галерея. Москва. С.2~6~1-2~6~2.

  4. Морозов С.В. Специализированная структура описания экспонатов из керамики: опыт создания интерфейса. Информационные технологии в музее. Вып.1. СПб., 1999, С.46-52.

  5. Щапова Ю.Л. Введение в вещеведение: естественнонаучный подход и изучение древних вещей. Труды исторического факультете МГУ [12]. Серия III. Издательство МГУ, М., 2000. 143 с.

  6. Kul’kova M.A., Mazurkevich A.N., Dolukhanov P.M. Chronology and paleoclimate of prehistoric sites in western Dvina-Lovat’ area of North-Western Russia. Geochronometria. Vol.20., 2001. pp. 87-94.

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