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The five Case Studies

ECHO will demonstrate the implementation of its infrastructure by presenting five case studies of different scientific disciplines and by dealing with different media.
For more information please see "ECHO Content"

Case study 1: The provision and generation of scholarly metadata

Case Study leader: Barbara Cassin, University Paris Sorbonne

The first case study aims at making scientific, philosophical, and language dictionaries freely accessible on the Internet in such a way that they are directly linked with the scholarly sources provided by research projects. In this way a philosophical term found in a dictionary could, for instance, be directly linked to sources illustrating the use of the term in context. Or vice versa, a German word found in an 18th century physics text can, for instance, be first automatically analysed with regard to its grammatical form and then linked not only to a German-English dictionary but also to a contemporary scientific lexicon explaining its meaning and also giving examples of its use in other sources.
In the context of this phase of the ECHO project, the first case study is planned to explore this approach for dictionaries and vocabularies in two specific content areas, history of physics and philosophy here represented by Gehler's Physikalisches Wörterbuch, one of the most widely used scientific dictionaries around 1800, and a newly designed European Vocabulary of Philosophies - Dictionary of Untranslatables. This European Vocabulary will provide entries relating to key concepts of the European philosophies that cannot be easily (or not all) translated. Their meaning is instead explained by the history and the context of their usage, illustrated by quotations from historical sources that should eventually become accessible themselves within the ECHO framework. The European Vocabulary of Philosophies will bring in the wealth of twelve modern European languages ranging from French to Modern Greek, and will make available source terminologies in four languages (Hebrew, Ancient Greek, Arabic and Latin). The study of these terminologies together with the corpus of source-texts entails a combination of synchronic and diachronic approaches to the interactions and differences between the languages and cultures that are constitutive of the European heritage. In this phase, however, the European Vocabulary will be included mainly with the intention to demonstrate the power of a pluralistic, multilingual access system as it can be provided only by integrating the new possibilities offered by information technology with metadata that are generated by expert scholars.
Web presentation of case study 1

Case study 2: A study of the seminal Roman architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries

Case Study leader: Elisabeth Kieven, Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max Planck Institute for Art History

The second case study aims at bringing together in the common infrastructure a large body of archival and image documents now dispersed over different European archives and collections, making them freely accessible on the Web together with new IT-based tools for studying them. High-resolution images of architectural drawings related to Roman models will be acquired with the help of techniques developed in one of the partner institutes. Their public availability on the Web will not only constitute a contribution to the conservation of these images but also create completely new conditions for reconstructing the process of proliferation and migration of ideas about architecture across Europe. The images will be linked with archival documents in order to make information available that has hitherto been limited only to a few specialists. Pursuing this task in the context of WP2, it is also expected to trigger technological developments for dealing with art objects that should be generalisable far beyond the specific project. As the rights issue is especially delicate in the field of art, and as commercial and political pressures are mounting with the effect to limit the freedom of research, an assessment of the feasibility of an open source policy seems particularly urgent. The planned work will gather exemplary material from 5 institutions in 5 European countries during the first 15 months of the project. Two partners and 3 subcontractors will be involved in this work for a more detailed description of the work performed for this case study).
Web presentation of case study 2

Case study 3: A study of European mechanics and the network of science in the age of the Scientific Revolution

Case Study leader: Jürgen Renn, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

The third case study aims at reconstructing for a particular field the European intellectual community and its concerns by providing digital access to published standard works, as well as to manuscripts and other unpublished materials documenting the informal dissemination and the shared base of contemporary scientific knowledge. This study as well will make historical documents freely available on the Internet, enriching the common environment for collaborative scholarly work by integrating sophisticated display options for historical sources, language technology, commentary tools, and tools for turning research results into new ways of accessing the sources. Again, the expectations connected with this task are both of a scholarly and a technical kind: While presently key sources documenting the Scientific Revolution as a European venture are dispersed in various national archives and libraries where they are mostly studied in separation from each other by specialists of the different national scientific cultures, a virtual European archive of these materials on the Internet will give new insights into the functioning of the European intellectual community in this critical period of the emergence of science. At the same time, this task as well is intended to demonstrate the generalisability of specific solutions by integrating them into the AGORA framework. Exemplary sources of material from 10 institutions in various European countries will be integrated and commented by 3 partners and 5 subcontractors for a more detailed description of the work performed for this case study).
Web presentation of case study 3

Case study 4: A comparative study of European sign languages

Case Study leader: Stephen Levinson, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

The fourth case study will create a database with exactly comparable multi-media recordings documenting sign languages as used in three European countries (Sweden, UK, and the Netherlands). The 18 sign languages of the EEC, as used by the profoundly deaf, are centuries old elements of European cultural heritage, languages with poetry, puns and folklore. They are scientifically important, showing that human language is fundamentally modality-independent, and of course they also have important policy implications. The integration of the planned multi-media recordings, with cross-translations, into the collaborative web-based environment will allow both the deaf themselves and the scientific community to systematically study the similarities and differences between various languages and will enable the public to improve its understanding of the complexity and full linguistic expressiveness of these hidden languages of Europe. Research on European sign languages has long been hampered by a lack of public awareness (including even suppression by national or educational policies), but also by a lack of multi-media technology and a lack of European cooperation. While research groups dedicated to these languages have been established in a number of member and candidate countries, they are still not effectively networked so that there is indeed very little comparative work on the sign languages of Europe. Now modern multimodal annotation and exploitation tools operating in a distributed scenario via Internet are available and will be used and further developed as part of the universal working environment. This study will thus not only contribute to the revaluation of the hidden languages of Europe but also provide new ways of dealing with multimedia, methods which can also be extended to the study of any cultural performance (such as drama, dance or festival) at a later date. Under the leadership of one of the partners this work will be carried out by that partner as well as by 3 subcontractors. for a more detailed description of the work performed for this case study).
Web presentation of case study 4

Case study 5: Non-European components of European cultural heritage

Case Study leader: Maurice Godelier, Joint Research Unit of the Centre for Scientific Research

The fifth case study is a case study that is dealing with the non-European components of European cultural heritage. The study intends to find and define all essential conditions (intellectual, institutional, financial, technological) that are necessary for such a multidimensional case study to be feasible at a European level. It will specifically create a concrete framework for collecting the relevant data from all selected 2000 societies to be sampled. The study also intends to launch research on the history of the constitution of the European collections dealing with non-European societies and their objects. Cross-disciplinary work sessions (bringing together anthropologists, ethnologists, historians, geographers, linguists, and philosophers) will result in the definition of the content of the database from the standpoint of its scientific research and its ethical standards. The thematic and disciplinary architecture of the database will be established. The criteria will be defined for selecting the "reference objects" presented in the database. The ethical guidelines will be identified that must be followed when creating the database and implementing research programs. A prototype of the database from will be provided. This case study will support current efforts of numerous European countries to transform and modernize their major ethnographic and art museums devoted to non-Western countries and respond to changing expectations of a public no longer willing to accept any form of intellectual segregation restricting access to knowledge for a more detailed description of the work performed for this case study).
Web presentation of case study 5
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