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Semantic Kalevala – The Finnish National Epic on the Semantic Web

What is Semantic Kalevala?

  1. Semantic Kalevala is a representation of the Finnish national epic in Semantic Web form as Linked Open Data. The epic has been annotated semantically by using the Finnish national ontology KOKO. It has also been annotated narratively in which its narrative structure and internal linkage have been demonstrated. The data has been linked externally with the Finnish national ontology infrastructure FinnONTO and various datasets there.
  2. Semantic Kalevala is also an application demonstrator, providing a window to the Finnish cultural heritage. Semantic Kalevala is part of the Finnish culture portal CultureSampo. Through semantic metadata, the epic’s text connects to the wide-ranging content of the portal, providing a contextualized and enhanced reading exprerience to the end user.

Semantic Kalevala Brochure

Semantic Kalevala and CultureSampo

An event-based annotation scheme has been applied to Semantic Kalevala, as it is also in use in the whole CultureSampo portal. Basically the annotation includes headlining of the event, locating the event in the text corpus (indicated in verse numbers), and keyword annotation using the KOKO ontology. The latter is the actual semantic part of the process. By keyword, we herein refer to an ontology class or instance attached to a certain event instance as metadata.

Every annotated event is anchored to a certain part of the text, a certain group of verses. All 50 Kalevala poems have been divided into small groups of verses corresponding to their respective events. In the process, the text’s own division into paragraphs has been taken into account. In the course of annotation, two distinct but complementary objectives have been pursued, presented here in order of importance: a) to picture Kalevala as precisely and faithfully as the ontology allows, and b) to produce as meaningful and interesting CulSa recommendations as possible. Recommendations will be described in greater detail later.

CultureSampo (CulSa, in short) is a portal of Finnish cultural heritage based on Semantic Web and Web 2.0 technologies. CultureSampo consists of a number of collections from over 20 Finnish memory organizations including museums, archives, and libraries. Together these collections make up a whole containing culture objects of varied media: museum items, works of art, photographs, folk poems and so on. Thus far, the portal contains hundreds of thousands culture objects which all have been annotated semantically in the same manner as Semantic Kalevala’s events. In addition, CultureSampo offers multiple views for browsing the content, e.g. through reading biographies, searching by map - or reading Semantic Kalevala.

In other words, Semantic Kalevala has a double role with regards to the portal. First, it constitutes its own culture heritage collection of 50 poems that connects to other collections of the portal. Second, Semantic Kalevala acts as a distinct view or window for browsing CultureSampo’s content. Reading Semantic Kalevala opens up diverse views to the portal’s content.

CultureSampo recommends varying objects according to the semantic metadata annotated in Semantic Kalevala. The objects recommended will share common attributes with the extract or part of text in question. In other words, the extract and the objects share common semantic metadata. For example, when the user is reading an extract of Kalevala concerning fishing, CulSa may recommend other fishing related objects, such as museum items or art, e.g. fishing nets or paintings that depict fishing. The recommendation is not static but instead will give a different result with every reading.

Screenshot of user interface
Screenshot of the user interface and the recommendations.

Narrative annotation of Semantic Kalevala

Unlike semantic annotation, narrative annotation passes through the semantic surface and examines the structure and internal linkage of the epic. It can be further divided into hierarchic and intratextual annotation. The goal here is to visualize the hierarchy and structure of the epic for the end user.

Kalevala has been divided into three levels of narrative hierarchy: episode, scene, and event. We call units of all four levels jointly narrative units. By episodes we mean units with clear beginning and end that bind together a group of successive scenes and a group of agents in interaction. However, episodes do not constitute a full-scale story but rather belong to a larger whole. Scene is a part of episode that covers a specific action with beginning and end. Events are units that describe one specific and simple action. If we consider dialogue a good example of a scene, the equivalent on the event level is a speaker’s line.

For indicating narrative coherence and internal linkage, the level of scenes has been chosen as the scope of annotation. The reason for this is that the nature of description is too specific on the level of events and too wide-ranging on the level of episodes. The annotation connects scenes in two ways: as scene chains and as scene references. Scene chain unifies a three-phase or four-phase series of scenes indicating a schematic development. The phases are 1) beginning, 2) progress, 3) climax, and 4) solution. The most important phases thematically are climax and solution: filtering them from the narrative is the starting point for building scene chains. In annotation, scenes relevant for the development of the story have been favored. Scene references include past and future reference. Past reference is embodied in such forms as storytelling, recalling, reminding etc., while future reference is represented in planning, promising, warning, predicting, and so on. Both are well represented in the epic.

Data publication

Semantic Kalevala is available as Linked Open Data at Linked Data Finland service.

Contact Person

Eero Hyvönen, Professor

Publications about Semantic Kalevala

2012

Eetu Mäkelä, Eero Hyvönen and Tuukka Ruotsalo: How to deal with massively heterogeneous cultural heritage data – lessons learned in CultureSampo. Semantic Web – Interoperability, Usability, Applicability, vol. 3, no. 1, January, 2012. bib pdf link
This paper presents the CultureSampo system for publishing heterogeneous linked data as a service. Discussed are the problems of converting legacy data into linked data, as well as the challenge of making the massively heterogeneous yet interlinked cultural heritage content interoperable on a semantic level. Novel user interface concepts for then utilizing the content are also presented. In the approach described, the data is published not only for human use, but also as intelligent services for other computer systems that can then provide interfaces of their own for the linked data. As a concrete use case of using CultureSampo as a service, the BookSampo system for publishing Finnish fiction literature on the semantic web is presented.

2009

Tuomas Palonen, Jouni Hyvönen, Joeli Takala and Eero Hyvönen: Semanttinen Kalevala - Kulttuurisammon taontaa (Semantic Kalevala - Forging the CutureSampo). eLore, vol. 16, no. 2, December, 2009. bib pdf
Eero Hyvönen, Eetu Mäkelä, Tomi Kauppinen, Olli Alm, Jussi Kurki, Tuukka Ruotsalo, Katri Seppälä, Joeli Takala, Kimmo Puputti, Heini Kuittinen, Kim Viljanen, Jouni Tuominen, Tuomas Palonen, Matias Frosterus, Reetta Sinkkilä, Panu Paakkarinen, Joonas Laitio, Katariina Nyberg: CultureSampo - A National Publication System of Cultural Heritage on the Semantic Web 2.0. Proceedings of the 6th European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC2009), Heraklion, Greece, May 31 - June 4, 2009. Springer-Verlag. bib pdf
CULTURESAMPO is an application demonstration of a national level publication system of cultural heritage contents on the Web, based on ideas and technologies of the Semantic (Web and) Web 2.0. On the semantic side, the system presents new solutions to interoperability problems of dealing with multiple ontologies of different domains, and to problems of integrating multiple metadata schemas and cross-domain content into a homogeneous semantic portal. A novelty of the system is to use semantic models based on events and narrative process descriptions for modeling and visualizing cultural phenomena, and for semantic recommendations. On the Web 2.0 side, CULTURESAMPO proposes and demonstrates a content creation process for collaborative, distributed ontology and content development including different memory organizations and citizens. The system provides the cultural heritage contents to end-users in a new way through multiple (nine) thematic perspectives, based on semantic visualizations. Furthermore, CULTURESAMPO services are available for external web-applications to use through semantic AJAX widgets.
Eero Hyvönen, Eetu Mäkelä, Tomi Kauppinen, Olli Alm, Jussi Kurki, Tuukka Ruotsalo, Katri Seppälä, Joeli Takala, Kimmo Puputti, Heini Kuittinen, Kim Viljanen, Jouni Tuominen, Tuomas Palonen, Matias Frosterus, Reetta Sinkkilä, Panu Paakkarinen, Joonas Laitio, Katariina Nyberg: CultureSampo - Finnish Culture on the Semantic Web 2.0. Thematic Perspectives for the End-user. Proceedings, Museums and the Web 2009, Indianapolis, USA, April 15-18, 2009. bib pdf
We present an overview of CultureSampo, an ambitious system for creating a collective semantic memory of the cultural heritage of a nation on the Semantic Web 2.0, combining ideas underlying the Semantic Web and the Web 2.0. The system addresses the semantic web challenge of aggregating highly heterogeneous, cross-domain cultural heritage collections and other contents into a semantically rich intelligent system for human and machine users. At the same time, CultureSampo is an approach to solve the social and practical Web 2.0 challenge of organizing the underlying collaborative ontology development and content creation work of memory organizations and citizens. This paper focuses on CultureSampo’s search, recommendation, and visualization services for the end-users. The key idea here is to access cultural heritage on the Semantic Web through nine “thematic perspectives”, such as places on the maps, the social network of cultural persons, timelines, and narrative texts, e.g. biographies and literary works.
Eero Hyvönen, Eetu Mäkelä, Tomi Kauppinen, Olli Alm, Jussi Kurki, Tuukka Ruotsalo, Katri Seppälä, Joeli Takala, Kimmo Puputti, Heini Kuittinen, Kim Viljanen, Jouni Tuominen, Tuomas Palonen, Matias Frosterus, Reetta Sinkkilä, Panu Paakkarinen, Joonas Laitio, Katariina Nyberg: CultureSampo - Finnish Cultural Heritage Collections on the Semantic Web 2.0. Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium on Digital Humanities for Japanese Arts and Cultures (DH-JAC-2009), Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, March, 2009. bib pdf
This paper presents an overview of the SemanticWeb 2.0 application CultureSampo, an ambitious system for creating a collective semantic memory of the cultural heritage of a nation on the Semantic Web 2.0, combining ideas underlying the Semantic Web and the Web 2.0. The system addresses the semantic web challenge of aggregating highly heterogeneous, cross-domain cultural heritage content into a semantically rich intelligent system for human and machine users. At the same time, CultureSampo is an approach to solve the social and practical Web 2.0 challenge of organizing the underlying collaborative ontology development and content creation work of memory organizations and citizens.

2008

Eero Hyvönen, Eetu Mäkelä, Tomi Kauppinen, Olli Alm, Jussi Kurki, Tuukka Ruotsalo, Katri Seppälä Kim Viljanen, Jouni Tuominen, Tuomas Palonen, Matias Frosterus, Reetta Sinkkilä, Panu Paakkarinen, Joonas Laitio, Katariina Nyberg: CultureSampo - A Collective Memory of Finnish Cultural Heritage on the Semantic Web 2.0. Semantic Computing Research Group, Helsinki University of Technology and University of Helsinki, Sept 29, 2008. bib pdf
This paper presents the Semantic Web 2.0 application CULTURESAMPO, an ambitious system of creating a collective semantic memory of the cultural heritage of a nation on the Semantic Web 2.0, combining ideas underlying the Semantic Web and the Web 2.0. The system addresses the semantic challenge of aggregating highly heterogeneous, cross-domain cultural heritage into a semantically rich intelligent system for human and machine users. At the same time, CULTURESAMPO is an approach to solve the social and practical Web 2.0 challenge of organizing the underlying collaborative ontology development and content creation work of memory organizations and citizens.

2007

Eero Hyvönen, Joeli Takala, Olli Alm, Tuukka Ruotsalo and Eetu Mäkelä: Semantic Kalevala - Accessing Cultural Contents Through Semantically Annotated Stories. Proceedings of the Cultural Heritage on the Semantic Web Workshop at the 6th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2007), Busan, Korea, Nov, 2007. bib pdf
An event-based approach is presented for annotating events and narrative structures underlying texts and stories semantically. The idea is applied to using the Finnish national epic Kalevala for accessing related cultural contents, such as artifacts, paintings etc. in a semantic portal.
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