Switching Partners: Dancing with the Ontological Engineers

In Thomas Batcherer & Roderick Coover (eds.), Switching Codes: Thinking through Digital Technology in the Humanities and the Arts. University of Chicago Press. pp. 103--124 (2011)
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Ontologies are today being applied in almost every field to support the alignment and retrieval of data of distributed provenance. Here we focus on new ontological work on dance and on related cultural phenomena belonging to what UNESCO calls the “intangible heritage.” Currently data and information about dance, including video data, are stored in an uncontrolled variety of ad hoc ways. This serves not only to prevent retrieval, comparison and analysis of the data, but may also impinge on our ability to preserve the data that already exists. Here we explore recent technological developments that are designed to counteract such problems by allowing information to be retrieved across disciplinary, cultural, linguistic and technological boundaries. Software applications such as the ones envisaged here will enable speedier recovery of data and facilitate its analysis in ways that will assist both archiving of and research on dance.
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