NEH Grant: Perseus on the Web — preparing for the next thirty years

National Endowment for the Humanities grant to the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University, April 18, 2023

I am writing to express my gratitude to the National Endowment for the Humanities for awarding us a new grant entitled “Perseus on the Web: Preparing for the Next Thirty Years.” We will receive just under $348,881 for this project, which is scheduled to run from July 2023 through June 2026.

Development for what would become Perseus began at Harvard in 1985, with our first grant support from an equipment grant provided by Xerox Corporation. David A. Smith created the first initial web version of Perseus at Tufts in 1995. This new NEH grant will be active, and most of our planned development will be completed by 2025, marking thirty years since the first web version of Perseus. Looking to the next thirty years is an ambitious goal, and advances in fields such as AI may lead us to move beyond systems like Perseus. Nevertheless, David Mimno designed the first version of Perseus on which most users depend, Perseus 4.0 (“the Perseus Hopper”), twenty years ago in 2003.

A month ago, I posted about the soft release of an initial version of what we are calling Perseus 6.0. That work will continue through August of this year. Our goals are to finally transition from Perseus 4.0, “the Perseus Hopper.” By the end of summer 2023, we hope that Perseus 6.x will include the remaining key features from Perseus 4.0 (such as support for commentaries and dictionaries) as well as the scalability of Perseus 5.0 (“the Scaife Viewer”) and the new capabilities introduced in Perseus 6.0 (“Beyond Translation”), such as treebanks, aligned translations, metrical visualizations, improved linking from commentaries and lexica, new geospatial visualizations, and integration with IIIF.

This new grant will enable us to build upon the new, more modern codebase and general architecture. We will have more to say about that in the coming months. The bottom line, though, is that as we finish up work on a production version of Perseus 6, we are already in a position to begin planning for Perseus 7 in 2025 or 2026.

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