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Navigating a Sea of Texts: Topic Maps and the Poetry of Algernon Charles Swinbure

Poster, by Michelle Dalmau and John A. Walsh

This poster states how a collection of TEI-encoded literary texts benefit from the use of Topic Maps.

External Link: more information

Topic Maps, including their XML representation, XML Topic Maps (XTM), are powerful and flexible metadata formats that have the potential to transform digital resource interfaces and support new discovery mechanisms for humanities data sources, such as large collections of TEI-encoded literary texts. Proponents of topic maps assert that topic map structures significantly improve information retrieval, but few user-based investigations have been conducted to uncover how humanities researchers and students truly benefit from the rich and flexible conceptual relationships that comprise topic maps.

The proposed poster will provide an introduction to Topic Maps and how a collection of TEI-encoded literary texts, specifically, the Swinburne Project http://swinburnearchive.indiana.edu, benefit from the use of topic maps. The poster will also provide an overview of the methodology used for the comparative usability study that was designed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a topic map-driven interface versus a standard search interface. The interfaces that were presented to users will be demonstrated along with key findings from the usability study. Lastly, design alternatives based on the usability findings will also be presented.

The results of this study are intended to move the discussion of topic maps in the digital humanities beyond demonstrating the novel to providing evidence of the impact of Topic Maps and their extension of existing classificatory structures on the humanities researcher’s discovery experience. We hope to provide those who are implementing topic maps or similar metadata structures in digital humanities resources with design recommendations that will ensure successful user interaction.


The Swinburne Project

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The Swinburne Project is a digital collection, or virtual archive, devoted to the life and work of Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne. When ...

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Topic Maps provides a proven means for data integration scaling to the
web, as well as a core technology for our highly flexible applications
with largely autogenerated frontend structures.

Stefan Kesberg
topicWorks Navigator
Topic Maps Lab auf der Cebit 2011

Graduate from the Topic Maps Lab