Tuesday, 15 December 2020 | 16:00 to 17:00

Sara Tonelli will give a keynote talk at the Linked Pasts 6 Symposium, hosted by the University of London and British Library. The title of the talk is “To LOD or not to LOD? Linking events and named entities with NLP in Digital History Projects”.

The annual Linked Pasts conference, which has previously been held at KCL, Madrid, Stanford, Mainz and Bordeaux, brings together scholars, heritage professionals and other practitioners with an interest in Linked Open Data as applied to the study of the ancient and historical worlds. Panels and working groups at Linked Pasts are more goal-oriented than a conventional academic conference, and activities and agendas are often proposed, developed and revised by all participants at the event itself.


In this talk I will focus on the use of NLP to automatically link information from plain text to a knowledge base, a task which can benefit digital history projects aimed at reconstructing paths, events and trajectories from the past starting from archival documents. I will present some examples, where we showed that linking persons’ mentions to DBPedia can be effectively used not only to enrich the original text with structured knowledge, but also to infer information about the mentions that do not have a DBPedia entry. Trying to do the same with event mentions, however, poses a number of additional questions. Indeed, from a technological point of view, linking tools can recognize historical events with a similar accuracy of other named entities. However a general definition of what an event is does not seem to hold in different contexts and an application-based operationalisation may be more appropriate for digital history projects.