The Canada Foundation for Innovation has announced funding for the Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship (LINCS) project.

Humanities researchers engage with, analyze, and synthesize heterogeneous bodies of information about how people, places, organizations, events, concepts, artworks and artifacts are linked. This applies whether one is considering the impact of Canadian government agencies on creative industries, how global trade routes relate to resource locations, how indigenous storytelling cultures negotiated European-based writing and publishing systems, or how social identities impact communities. Scholars have unprecedented quantities of data for addressing complex social processes, but are hampered by the lack of meaningful connections between, and compatibility of, online materials. Most continue to interact with cultural data only through reading rather than by leveraging algorithmic processes to answer major questions about human culture. Humanities researchers need a smarter, “semantic” web whose links will elucidate the diverse causes, effects, and significance of human action and expression.

The Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship (LINCS) will convert large datasets into an organized, interconnected, machine-processable set of resources for Canadian cultural research. LINCS will provide context for the cultural material that currently floats around online, interlink it, ground it in its sources, and help to make the World Wide Web a trusted resource for scholarly knowledge production.

This national infrastructure, available to all, will first benefit 48 leading researchers in fields including music, indigenous, environmental, performance, and literary studies who will investigate historical and contemporary cultural phenomena using scalable tools suited to the whole spectrum of researchers. The range of domains indicates the broad and international impact that LINCS will have in providing new means of advancing Canadian cultural studies. LINCS will expose the hidden connections between people, places, events, and culture across time, space, and media.

A flexible set of tools and workflows will foster the ongoing augmentation and refinement of an ecology of linked research data. LINCS will comprise: 1) a Conversion toolkit to interlink and enrich research data, 2) a national linked data Storage environment, and 3) a user-friendly Access system to allow researchers and the public to browse, search, filter, analyze and visualize cultural materials online; to enable the validation by experts of algorithmically produced semantic annotations; and to support further linked data production, conversion, and enhancement through an array of conversion tools.

CWRC has been built on linked-data-friendly principles and will provide one means for researchers to push material into LINCS.

The CFI announcement of the Challenge 1 Cyberinfrastructure awards can be found here.

Project lead: Susan Brown, University of Guelph
Institutional partners: McGill University; University of Alberta; University of Ottawa; University of Toronto; University of Victoria
Lead researcher institutions: Simon Fraser University, Université de Montréal, University of Saskatchewan, Texas A&M University, York University. Researcher involvement from across and beyond Canada

LINCS will build upon and produce open-source software and open-access linked data.