Aims and goals


GATE is intended as a place to carry out research on the basis of the documents filed in the Historical Archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University (APUG). Among the research goals, there is the identification of the evolutionary processes of the different fields of knowledge in the Modern age. This perspective allows a reconstruction of the historical past by using the sources, which shall be understood as contextualized products, i.e. linked to a particular social context. This decreases the anachronisms and the deformations of knowledge of the cultural aspects that belong to an era that is different from ours. The collaborative forms of work on which GATE is based, reflect the prerequisite that the fields of knowledge are constituted in a cooperative manner. In our opinion, this project aims at being not only interdisciplinary, but rather transdisciplinary, so as to enhance the observing complexity.

GATE makes full use of the opportunities offered by an easy and ready-to-use software like MediaWiki[1] to publish unedited sources owned by APUG. Sources such as those that will be published usually require years of scholarly work and considerable financing, particularly for digitization, development and design of web platforms. At times, these preliminary requirements discourage the start of such projects, especially for institutions with limited resources.

Historical Archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University manuscripts

An example of the use of MediaWiki to transcribe sources is the Wikisource project,[2] where thousands of printed books have been transcribed without interruption since 2003. Afterwards, several projects began to rely on MediaWiki to transcribe manuscript sources too. The main goal of these initiatives was to involve many people in a crowdsourced transcription activity, usually related to huge corpora of manuscripts otherwise difficult to transcribe exclusively through the work of few scholars. Today, projects such as Transcribe Bentham[3] and Scripto[4] are evidence of successful experiences that have been involving thousands of people in the transcription of millions of manuscript words, sometimes bringing to light previously unknown facts and writings.

The GATE project intends to follow and carry on those experiences, by involving not only a specialized public but also, and above all, the youngest generations. Thanks to the implementation of the Semantic MediaWiki (SMW) extension,[5] it is possible to annotate the texts, finding entities such as Names, Works, Places, Terms and Objects. SMW may be used for different purposes:

  • performing semantic annotation on the texts;
  • making ‘semantic’ the letters metadata;
  • empowering the results of general search queries.

By means of the specific architecture of Mediawiki, which promotes discussion among people, all users have the chance to argue about the correct interpretation of single words or work together on the identification of a cited work.[6]