New Human Origins journal launched

A new open-contents journal edited by members of the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins here at Southampton was just launched. You can download all the papers of the first issue on the new website. This first issue includes papers from the Lucy to Language seminar series. It includes some fascinating papers by my colleagues here. The journal also welcomes new submissions, guidelines can be found on the website.

Human Origins is a British-based peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal dedicated to human origins research and Palaeolithic archaeology. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, we offer a broad and interdisciplinary emphasis on Palaeolithic archaeology as well as primatology, osteology, evolutionary psychology, ethnography, palaeo-climatology, geology, anthropology and genetics (phylogeography).

Issue 1 has now been published and is a special volumecontaining papers from the British Academy Lucy to Language: Archaeology of the Social Brain Seminar Series on Palaeolithic Visual Display.

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‘Thinking beyond the tool’ published

At last year’s TAG I was part of a session titled ‘Thinking beyond the tool’, chaired by Costas Papadopoulos, Angeliki Chrysanthi and Patricia Murrieta Flores. The proceedings are now in press and the volume will be available with Archaeopress as part of the British Archaeological Reports series in March. Costas, Angeliki and Paty did a great job editing this volume consisting of many fascinating papers, big congratulations to them! You can read my own contribution ‘Facebooking the past: a critical social network analysis approach for archaeology’ on my bibliography page

Here is what Paty has to say about the volume on her blog:

The idea of putting together this book was inspired by the session ‘Thinking beyond the Tool: Archaeological Computing and the Interpretive Process’, which was held at the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference in Bristol (17-19 December 2010). The book postulates that archaeological computing has become an integral part of the interpretive process for inquiring and disseminating the past and includes:

12 theoretically informed chapters on a variety of computational methodologies used in archaeology and heritage
an introduction by the editors (Costas Papadopoulos, Angeliki Chrysanthi and myself)
a commentary by Jeremy Huggett
The book will be out by the end of March and those of you coming to the CAA2012 keep an eye for it at the Archaeopress stand! Many thanks to all those – both authors and reviewers- who have contributed to this!

Presentation at CeRCH KCL

I am delighted to announce that next Tuesday 14 February (Valentines day!) I will be giving a seminar at the Centre for e-Research at King’s College London. If you are around at all please do not hesitate to drop by. The seminar will take place at 6:15pm in the Anatomy Theatre and Museum, King’s College London. For more information and to register, please go to the seminar website.

As always I will make my slides available here after the seminar.

Here is the extended abstract of my talk.

Networks of networks: a critical review of formal network methods in archaeology through citation network analysis and close reading

Methods and theories seem to fade in and out of fashion constantly. Some are lucky enough to find a large audience thanks to the efforts of pioneering adopters whilst others are doomed to be forgotten despite of the zealous efforts of their proponents. But how does a new idea emerge in a discipline, where did it originate and how does it evolve in a new research context? The archaeological use of formal network methods which has only recently become more popular forms a particularly suitable case to explore such academic processes. This paper will for the first time trace the academic traditions, network concepts, models and techniques that have been most influential to archaeologists. I will do this by combining a close reading of published archaeological network applications with citation network analysis techniques (Batagelj 2003; Hummon and Doreian 1989; White 2011), an approach that has not been applied to archaeological literature before.

This paper will argue that archaeological network researchers are not well networked themselves, resulting in a limited and sometimes uncritical adoption of formal network methods within the archaeological discipline. This seems to have followed largely from a general unawareness of the historicity of network-based approaches which span at least eight decades of multi-disciplinary research. Many network analytical techniques that would only find a broader use in the last 15 years were in fact introduced in the archaeological discipline as early as the 1970s. The unawareness of alternative approaches is most prominent in recent archaeological applications of formal network methods, which show a tendency of adopting techniques and models that were fashionable at the time of publication rather than exploring other archaeological and non-archaeological approaches. This paper does not aim to argue that every archaeological network study should include a historiography. It merely wishes to stress the need to explore the full range of existing network techniques and models. I will illustrate that knowledge of the diversity of archaeological and non-archaeological network methods is crucial to their critical application and modification within archaeological research contexts.

The paper concludes that in order to move towards richer archaeological applications of formal network methods archaeological network analysts should become better networked both within and outside their discipline. The existing archaeological applications of network analysis show clear indications of methods with great potential for our discipline and methods that will remain largely fruitless, and archaeologists should become aware of these advances within their discipline. The development of original archaeological network methods should be driven by archaeological research problems and a broad knowledge of formal network methods developed in different disciplines. Also, given the wide availability of large datasets a citation network analysis of scientific literature is considered particularly suitable to guide a close reading and explore the emergence and evolution of new ideas.

References cited:
Batagelj, V. 2003. Efficient Algorithms for Citation Network Analysis. Arxiv preprint cs/0309023, pp.1-27.
Irwin-Williams, C. 1977. A network model for the analysis of Prehistoric trade in T. K. Earle and Ericson, J. eds., Exchange systems in Prehistory. New York: Academic Press, pp. 141-151.
Hummon, N.P. & Dereian, P. 1989. Connectivity in a citation network: The development of DNA theory. Social Networks, 11(1), pp.39–63.
White, H.D. 2011. Scientific and scholarly networks in J. Scott and Carrington, P. J. eds., The SAGE handbook of social network analysis. London: Sage.

Visit and presentation @ eTraces Leipzig

Last week Matteo Romanello and myself visited Marco Büchler and his colleagues in the eTraces project, based in Leipzig. We were introduced to the fascinating work on the interface between computer science and the Humanities done by the eTraces team and also got the opportunity to present our own work. The slides of my presentation can be found on my bibliography page or on Scribd.

Matteo Romanello presenting his work

Here some info about the eTraces project:

Be it science or the everyday life – our language contains numerous trails of our cultural legacy in the form of winged words and quotations. Scientists now created new software tools for making this cultural legacy available in digital libraries. With the help of those programs the origin and dissemination of text passages, quotes and common phrases can be reconstructed in a quick and easy manner.

The eTraces team hard at work

The main focus of “eTRACES” (which is the name of the project) lies on temporal traces and interconnecting relations of text passages in German language novels from between 1500 and 1900, as well as social science texts created since 1909. Project partners are the chair for Natural Language Processing at the University of Leipzig (ASV), the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities (GCDH), as well as the GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences in Bonn.

Funding of about 1.2 Mio € is granted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), covering a period of three years. “The cooperation of computer science experts with the specialists from the humanities and the social sciences bears great potential for the advancement of all three disciplines” explains State Secretary Cornelia Quennet-Thielen from the BMBF. Further, she emphasized, how eTRACES did exemplarily implement the “Recommendations on Research Infrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences” that were recently issued by the science council.

Harnessing the latest methods in text mining, new methods should be developed and tested to determine the demarcation of the intentional re-use of a text passage and and its utilization as a commonly used text block or boilerplate. Further attention lies on analyzing and visualizing the geographical, temporal and semantic cross-linking of citations.

In the application in the literary studies (partner Göttingen) the central question is, which practices of text passage re-use did coin the history of german novels. The initial subject of the research interests is the Luther Bible. The pivotal question posed by the partner GESIS is the examination of a textual differentiation of qualitative and quantitative social research. The application of informatics (ASV Leipzig) is to utilize the information on text re-use to build a search engine that also considers the citation frequency of a text or text fragment to determine its relevancy.

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