A public launch of the AHCR-funded Peoples of Medieval Scotland (PoMS) database by a Scottish Cabinet Secretary was held at the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre at the University of Glasgow on Wednesday, 5 September. The official launch by the Education and Lifelong Learning Secretary Michael Russell last week capped work carried out over 5 years by John Bradley and Michele Pasin from KCL’s Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) with historians from 3 institutions. Dauvit Broun, the lead historian at the University of Glasgow on the PoMS project said at the public launch that the database “demonstrated [a] potential to transform History as a public discipline” through “the new techniques of digital humanity”, noting that it has been a “privilege and a pleasure” to work with the team’s “exceptional people”.
One of the highlights of the launch was the brand new PoMS Labs section. This is an innovative and thought-provoking area of the site that features tools and visualizations aimed at letting users gain new perspectives on the database materials. Fore example, such tools allow to you browse incrementally the network of relationships linking persons/institutions to other persons/institutions; to compare the different roles played by two agents played in the context of their common events; or to browse iteratively transactions and the witnesses associated to them.
In general, PoMS Labs aims at addressing the needs of both non-expert users (e.g., learners) – who could simultaneously access the data and get a feeling for the meaningful relations among them – and experts alike (e.g., academic scholars) – who could be facilitated in the process of analysing data within predefined dimensions, so to highlight patterns of interest that would be otherwise hard to spot. For this reasons, the Labs have been welcomed warmly by both the academics present at the launch, and the minister, who felt that this kind of tools could revolutionise the teaching of history in schools.
- PoMS Laboratories: http://db.poms.ac.uk/labs/
- A more in depth intro to the Labs: “Navigating through the people of medieval Scotland“
- News article on The Scotsman: “Medieval Scots come back to life in online database“
- News article on the BBC: “Scottish medieval history documents put online“
- Facebook page of the PoMS project