Here's an idea that just struck me on the train on the way home.

Phil Gyford runs an excellent blog of the diary of Samuel Pepys. He blogs entries from the diaries one at a time 343 years to the day from the date of the diary entry (so at the time of writing we are in July 1661).

My idea is to attempt to topic map the entries in parallel with Phil's blogging.

The diary has a lot of interesting features:

  • References to places, some of which still exist, some which have since been redeveloped.
  • A large cast of characters with family and social relationships.
  • Reference to events of both major and minor significance.

Topic maps excel at enabling references between these features to be made and connections not at first apparent by a serial reading of the entries might be revealed. As far as I know there have not been many attempts to topic map a series of events like this so it would be an interesting experiment. I wrote some thoughts on topic mapping events a few weeks ago, so it might also be an interesting way to put that to the test.

So here's the plan:

I'm going to start blogging topic-mapped entries from Pepy's diary. In each blog entry I'll reference the entry, write some explanation about why I'm modelling it in my topic map in the way that I am and then include the topic map for that entry. Initially I plan to use LTM notation as it is more compact and readable than XTM.

It would be nice to make this an interactive process, so I welcome comments and proposals of alternate representations! Also, as I am no Pepys scholar, all I can do is attempt to represent what I read in the entry - I would welcome pointers in the right direction from anyone with more knowledge of this subject.

Seeing as at present there is a hiatus in the diary (there are no entries from 8th to 13th July), I'm going to attempt a bit of catch up from 1st July 1661. Watch this space...