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What is Pliny?

Welcome to the Pliny project homepage.

The Pliny project was primarily active from 2005 to 2015, and during that time aimed to promote some thinking that would look broadly at the provision of tools to support what I called “traditional” humanities scholarship. One of its products was a piece of software, also called Pliny, which facilitated note-taking and annotation – a key element of Humanities research for many scholars. It went further than this, however, by providing a set of facilities which allowed its user to integrate these initial notes into a representation of an evolving personal interpretation – perhaps one of the key goals of scholarly research. Some recent work since 2015 has taken a further step to focus on models for how materials created in Pliny could most effectively facilitate the writing of a research article.

Further information about the project can be found at Pliny's GitHub repository, on its associated wiki page. The publications tab showing here (below) contains a list of publications that the Pliny project generated.

Pliny was free software, but is no longer available. Although I keep a personal operating copy of Pliny for personal use, keeping it alive and working as an operating environment for others stopped being practical some time ago. Nonetheless, if you are interesting in trying out Pliny, get in touch with me and I’d be glad to set you up with a working version of the software. In addition, the code (in Java) is open-source and is available from GitHub at

If you'd like to comment on Pliny, please get in touch with me at my email address

Why "Pliny"?

Why is this project and software called Pliny? As will become evident from the rest of this website, the Pliny project was about some of the impacts that could arise from the digital handling of notetaking. In this light, I am beholden to Willard McCarty for the name, who pointed me at Pliny the Elder -- an individual who was famous in classical Roman times as someone who expressed his curiosity about all things by constantly recording notes about them. Apparently, he seems to have written quite a few works (Michel Barran says the number of works is 75 in his article about Pliny in Eric Weisstein's World of Biography), but the only one to survive is his encyclopaedic Historia Naturalis, which orders and presents his collected notes under a large number of topics. It is perhaps characteristic of his curiosity that he collapsed and died while travelling to see Vesuvius first-hand (and to rescue friends) during its eruption in 79 C.E.

Looking further into Pliny

Pliny software is built in Java with the Eclipse RCP platform.

Contact us

John Bradley can be contacted about Pliny at