Over the past few years, I’ve shared my interests in a number of blogs – some maintained no longer.

Early work related to the circumstances of my father’s family’s assisted emigration from the South of Ireland to Upper Canada in 1825 (Allen’s Upper Canada Sundries). Along the way I learned about classic political economy, historical demography, and mastered a few technologies for crowdsourcing the transcription of digitized archival materials (Peannairi, Anpharoiste). Other blogs related to my interests in the representation of meaning on the semantic web, and the mathematics of complex systems (Ontogenealogy).

Eventually I thought to tie these interests – and other representations of me on the web – together here.

What have I been working on lately?

  • Aspects of “service”
  • Digital humanities
  • Human rights

Aspects of “service”

In the past several months, I have been studying two domains – the concepts of “service” and “network”  – with the  idea of specifying more clearly a very popular but particularly slippery concept – the “service network”. I’ve been pursuing a few different aspects of “service”:

  • a critical look at the latest thinking about service dominant-logic (Lusch and Vargo)
  • a foray into the lexical semantics of service
  • exploring recent efforts to develop a dominant-logic of public service (Osborne)
  • defining and automating an ontology of linked service systems (Cardoso)

Dominant-Logic of service

In their recent paper “Institutions and axioms: an extension and update of service-dominant logic,” Vargo and Lusch summarize key steps in the development of Service-Dominant Logic since their original formulation of S-DL appeared in 2004. The new emphasis on the role of co-operation (versus competition) in markets, the role of institutions in value co-creation, and the role of value co-creation in innovation, is very exciting.

Dominant-Logic of public service

I’m looking forward to the publication of Stephen Osborne’s Public Service-Dominant Logic, a textbook that will introduce students of public management and public administration, as well as practicing public managers and policy makers, to the concept of a Public Service-Dominant Logic. I’ve been studying Osborne’s writings (2006 – present) on the New Public Governance. His work on policy-making and governance provides a vital connection between Lusch & Vargo’s Service-Dominant Logic and a systems-approach to service delivery – and public service delivery.

Lexical semantics of service

My frustration with the imprecision of Lusch and Vargo’s latest formulation of Service-Dominant Logic has me investigating the lexical semantics of service – with an in-depth study of lexical semantics, including connecting the WordNet, VerbNet and FrameNet databases to knowledge bases like BabelNet, Yago, Wikipedia and DBpedia. Lusch and Vargo have been borrowing heavily from more serious social scientists e.g. Brian Arthur’s study of economic complexity and technology, as well as Robert Axelrod’s study of the establishment, maintenance and substitution of norms in collectives. This line of thinking had me revisiting  autonomous agents and computer simulations of group dynamics.

Unified Service Description Language for Linked Service Systems (LSS-USDL)

Jorge Cardoso’s work on a Unified Service Description Language (*-USDL) – and particularly his USDL for Linked Service Systems (LSS-USDL) looks to make a great contribution to the ontology of service networks:

I’ve compiled and installed a working version of Cardoso’s web-based platform for visualizing and marking up real-world services using LSS-USDL. If you’re interested in installing LSS-USDL, I’ve provided a step-by-step guide.

Digital humanities

My latest foray into digital humanities is by far my most ambitious. Anpharoiste (“the parish”) is a platform for curating and crowdsourcing the transcription of a remarkable genealogical resource that has become available online.

In July 2015, the National Library of Ireland (NLI) published digitized copies of microfilm images of Irish Catholic parish registers of baptisms and marriages on a dedicated free-to-access website. The NLI website describes a collection of ~ 373,000 digital images from 550 microfilm reels of 3,500+ registers from 1,086 parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The “materials” of Anpharoiste are digital images of parish registers that are associated with two experimental, government-assisted emigrations of poor people – including my father’s ancestors – from the south of Ireland to Upper Canada in 1823 and 1825.

The “structure and function” of Anpharoiste is supported by my own installation of Omeka – a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions – including the Scripto plug-in for crowdsourcing the transcription of the digital images.

Human rights

One cannot help but be gravely concerned about the rise of the surveillance state and the erosion of human rights around the world – even for the privileged citizens of Canada. I’ve established a couple of sites to express my sentiments:

On October 29, 2015 the European Parliament passed a resolution on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens. The resolution included a call for EU Member States “to drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender.” extends a quixotic invitation to petition the Canadian government to grant asylum to Edward Snowden.

ioTerror supports volunteers who help transcribe talks by individuals who are doing their best to preserve human rights and economic justice in the early twenty-first century, including Samuel BowlesYochai BenklerGlenn GreenwaldChris Hedges, Lawrence LessigEben Moglen, Thomas PikettyLaura PoitrasBruce Schneier, and Edward Snowden.