The emergence of formal ontologies into the World Wide Web has had a profound effect on research in certain fields. In the Life Sciences, for example, key research information has been captured in formal domain ontologies, like those mentioned in the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies website (OBOFoundary 2012). In parallel with this has been the development of the AO annotation ontology framework (AO 2012) which formalises annotation to connect ontologies such as those in the OBOFoundary to references to them in the scientific literature: an act sometimes referred to as "semantic annotation", and tools such as the SWAN annotation system (SWAN 2008) have emerged to support this. We will call the activity of linking references in a domain literature directly to entities in one or more domain ontologies "direct semantic annotation". We show it in schematic form in figure I. The annotations – shown as heavier lines connecting spots in the literature to the ontologies would be in the AO annotation ontology, or something similar to it.
Can direct semantic annotation be applied to research in the Humanities? For it to work as it does in the Life Sciences, formal models of humanities materials, such as CIDOC-‐CRM, need to exist and be already used to model material of interest to the humanities. Not much of this has happened at present, although perhaps Linked Data initiatives (Heath 2011) show some promise in that general direction.