Enriching Digital Libraries Contents with SemLib Semantic Annotation System

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Enriching Digital Libraries Contents with SemLib Semantic Annotation System


Semedia paper presented at Digital Humanities 2012 is now online available.


The advent of revolutionary communication tools, like social media and image/video sharing, have transformed the Web into a giant collection of resources created by millions of people around the planet, representative of their different cultures and ideas. In this context, the Digital Humanities community have understood that Digital Libraries (DL) should no longer be simple ‘expositions’ of digital objects but rather provide interaction with users, enabling them to contribute with new knowledge, e.g. by annotating and tagging digital artefacts (Arko et al. 2006). This provides a more engaging user experience, enabling scholars to benefit from the digital world in their everyday work and researchers to work collaboratively (David et al. 2008). The crowdsourcing paradigm has been experimented, as in (Holley 2010), by leveraging users annotations to enrich the DL, helping in curating contents (correcting or signalling typos, etc.) or upload new digital material.

Existing annotations tools, however, are often limited to context and tags, which provide poor semantics, and, when they offer more expressive annotations, use proprietary or non-interoperable formats to represent semantics. In other words, the knowledge created by advanced users carefully annotating contents with valuable information is often lost, since it is not directly reusable by applications.

In this paper we present the prototypal annotation system developed within the SemLib EU project. The SemLib Annotation System (AS) can be easily integrated into existing DL or used through a bookmarklet to annotate generic Web pages, addressing annotations at different level of complexity and expressivity. In the prototype, users can write simple comments, augment them with links to Linked Data (LOD) and semantic tags. But if they are scholars and need more expressivity they can create complex structured relations among digital objects, connecting text within different documents and relating to specific vocabulary terms. Annotations are structured as RDF data, which is stored to a remote annotation server and can be consumed by third party applications as ‘slices’ of a single collaborative RDF graph.