Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks News

The Leonardo AHCN satellite symposium at NetSci is becoming a real tradition thanks to all the work of Max Schich, Isabel Meirelles and Roger Malina and their collaborators. They recently launched an ebook which I mentioned in a previous post. This ebook is discussed more elaborately in a recent Leonardo Journal podcast, so listen to that if you are considering buying the ebook. The previous edition of AHCN was also discussed by artist and writer Meredith Tromble. It’s a really nice story about the event and Meredith shares some cool insights and experiences.

Looking forward to next year’s edition!

Advertisements

CFP CAA 2013 Perth and our Complexity sessions

The CAA (computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology) is one of those conferences I actually look forward to each year. It has a big community of genuinely great people, it’s always a good experience. Next year it will be held in Perth, Australia. The call for papers is just out, and it looks like there will be quite a few interesting sessions on quite diverse topics. Download the CFP and list of sessions here.

I am involved in one session and one workshop this year, both with Iza Romanowska, Carolin Vegvari and Eugene Ch’ng. Our papers session is entitled “S9. Complex systems simulation in archaeology” and our hands-on workshop “W1. Complex Systems and Agent-Based Modelling in Archaeology”. Feel free to submit an abstract to the session. We hope we will spark some interest in complexity and good discussion with both the session and workshop.

Here are the abstracts:

S9. Complex systems simulation in archaeology. Chairs: I. Romanowska, T. Brughmans. Discussants: E. Ch’ng, C. Vegvari Format: Paper presentation (LP)

A complex system is “a system in which large networks of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex collective behaviour, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation via learning or evolution.” Mitchell 2009: 14. Complexity has been proclaimed as a new paradigm shift in science almost half a century ago. It developed as a response to the reductionist approach of René Descartes and the idea of a ‘clockwork universe’ that dominated past thinking for many centuries. Complexity brings a fresh alternative to this mechanistic approach. Complex Systems exist in every hierarchy of our world, from the molecular, to individual organisms, and from community to the global environment. This is why researchers in many disciplines, including archaeology, found particularly appealing the idea that global patterns can emerge in the absence of central control through interaction between local elements governed by simple rules (Kohler 2012). As a result, the unifying phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ (Aristotle, Metaphysica 10f-1045a) became the common ground for scholars in many disciplines.
Due to the complex nature of interactions, the study of complex systems requires computational tools such as equation-based modelling, agent-based modelling (ABM) and complex network analysis. In recent years the number of archaeological applications of complex systems simulation has increased significantly, not in the least due to a wider availability of computing power and user-friendly software alternatives. The real strength of these tools lies in their ability to explore hypothetical processes that give rise to archaeologically attested structures. They require archaeological assumptions to be made explicit and very often force researchers to present them in quantifiable form. For example, vague concepts such as ‘social coherence’, ‘connectivity’ or even seemingly explicit ‘dispersal rates’, often have to be given numeric values if they are to be integrated into computational models. Computational tools also allow for testing alternative hypotheses by creating ‘virtual labs’ in which archaeologists can test and eliminate models which, although superficially logical, are not plausible.
The main contribution that complexity science perspectives have to offer archaeology is the wide set of modelling and analytical approaches which recognise the actions of individual agents who collectively and continually create new cultural properties. Indeed, it has been argued that a complexity science perspective incorporates the advantages of culture historical, processual and post-processual paradigms in archaeology (Bentley and Maschner 2003; Bintliff 2008). Quantifiable complex systems simulations and mathematical modelling can provide a way to bridge the gap between the reductionist approach and the constructionist study of the related whole (Bentley and Maschner 2003).
This session aims to reflect upon and build on the recent surge of complex systems simulation applications in archaeology. Innovative and critical applications in analytical modelling, ABM, network analysis and other methods performed in a complexity science approach are welcomed. We hope this session will spark creative and insightful discussion on the potential and limitations of complexity science, possible applications, tools as well as its theoretical implications.

W1. Complex Systems and Agent-Based Modelling in Archaeology. Chairs: E. Ch’ng, C. Vegvari. Discussants: I. Romanowska, T. Brughmans

Modelling in various forms has always been an integral part of archaeology. In the broadest sense, archaeology is the study of human activities in the past, and a model is a simplified representation of reality. As a map is a useful abstract of the physical world that allows us to see aspects of the world we chose to, so a computational model distils reality into a few key features, leaving out unnecessary details so as to let us see connections. Human societies in their environmental context can be considered as complex systems. Complex systems are systems with many interacting parts, they are found in every hierarchy of the universe, from the molecular level to large planetary systems within which life and humanity with its cultural developments occur. Formal modelling can help archaeologists to identify the relationships between elements within a complex socio-environmental system in that particular hierarchy. Simulating large populations and non-linear interactions are computationally expensive. In recent years, however, the introduction of new mathematical techniques, rapid advances in computation, and modelling tools has greatly enhanced the potential of complex systems analysis in archaeology. Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) is one of these new methods and has become highly popular with archaeologists. In Agent-Based Modelling, human individuals in ancient societies are modelled as individual agents. The interaction of agents with each other and with their environment can give rise to emergent properties and self-organisation at the macro level – the distribution of wealth within a society, the forming of cohesive groups, population movements in climate change, the development of culture, and the evolution of landscape use are among the examples. Thus, the application of Agent-Based Models to hypothesis testing in archaeology becomes part of the question. The ability to construct various models and run hundreds of simulation in order to see the general developmental trend can provide us with new knowledge impossible in traditional approaches. Another advantage of agent-based models over other mathematical methods is that they can easily model, or capture heterogeneity within these systems, such as the different characteristics (personalities, gender, age, size, etc), preferences (coastal, in-land, food, fashion), and dynamics (microstates of position and orientation).
We would like to invite archaeologists new to complex systems and Agent-Based Modelling for an introductory workshop on Complex Systems and Agent-Based Modelling in archaeology. The workshop introduces the concept of Complexity in archaeology, drawing relationships between Information, Computation and Complexity. The practicality of the workshop leads beginners in building simple agent- based models and provides a means to build more complex simulations after. Participants knowledgeable in Complexity wishing to gain insights on real-world applications of Complexity will benefit from this workshop. Participants will get the opportunity to experiment with simple models and draw conclusions from analysis of simulations of those models. Programming experience is not required as the workshop leads beginners from the ground up in modelling tools.

Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin launched

Our colleagues at the German Archaeological Institute and the Excellence Cluster TOPOI have just launched the Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin. Find the official call for papers here:

===============================================
Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin 2012/2013: Call for Papers
===============================================

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the newly established Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin, which will run for the first time in the Winter Term 2012. This initiative, inspired by and connected to London’s Digital Classicist Work in Progress Seminar, is organised in association with the German Archaeological Institute and the Excellence Cluster TOPOI.

We invite submissions on research which employ digital methods, resources or technologies in an innovative way in order to enable increased understanding of the ancient world at large. Abstracts, either in English or in German, of 300-500 words max. (bibliographic references excluded) should be uploaded by midnight MET on September 14, 2012 using the special submission form.

Themes may include digital text, linguistics technology, image processing and visualisation, linked data and semantic web, open access, spatial and network analysis, serious gaming and any other digital or quantitative methods. We welcome seminar proposals addressing the application of these methods to individual projects, and particularly contributions which show how the digital component can lead to crossing disciplinary boundaries and answer new research questions. Seminar content should be of interest both to classicists, ancient historians or archaeologists, as well as information scientists and digital humanists, with an academic research agenda relevant to at least one of these fields.

Seminars will run fortnightly on Tuesday evenings (17:00-18:30) starting in October 2012 in the TOPOI Building Dahlem, hosted by the Excellence Cluster TOPOI. The full programme will be finalised and announced in late September. It is planned to grant an allowance to speakers for travelling and accommodation costs. Further details will be available once the program is finalised.

Facebook wins: where do other social networks fit in?

Since 2008 ignitesocialmedia.com has been collecting stats on a very wide range of online social networks. Now for the fifth time they published their annual report, making available a wealth of valuable data. The 2012 report reveals that the Online Social Networks market seems to become increasingly saturated, with a few giants dominating the market whilst the vast majority sees a decrease in interest. Work by Soton DH members in the SMiLE project (Social Media for suppporting Live Events) throws a different light on this ‘saturation’ by exploring how a combination of networks can be sensibly used on-the-spot, live. Does this report suggest that such an approach is doomed to fail? Not really. Although a small number of networks might dominate the field, these could form the glue or hubs in an integrated approach drawing on the specific functionality of a multiplicity of networks.

Here is what Brian Chappell of ignitesocialmedia.com has to say about the report:

2011 marked the second year in which many social networks started to wain as social network saturation kicked in. The questions remains, how many social networks can you actively stay up to date on? As Facebook became the mainstay for many users in late 2009 and into 2010 and continuing into 2011, we see the continued fallout in interest for many other social networks. There are still a few social networks that are growing, year over year, however, such as Tumblr, Reddit and Twitter, to name a few.

And here is the methodology they used to collect the data:

Reporting is the same as last year – most sites’ search stats were pulled back by querying just their name. For example: “Twitter”, instead of “Twitter.com” However, with that said, certain networks such as Tribe.net still needed to utilize the name.com variation, since people looking for tribe could be looking for a myriad of things, thus corrupting the data set.

All data continues to come from Google because they have one of the largest data sets on the web. We continued to use their Google Ad Planner and Google Insight for Search products to pull demographic and geographic data.

The Top Cities and Top Region reports show proportionate interest levels to the area based on the given search query.

The Demographic and Geographic reports have Y axis numbers that are percentages out of 100, therefore if the score is .52 then it is 52% of the population.

The Search Traffic reports are based on proportionate search traffic for the given query. It is on a scale of 100. Therefore if a given month shows the chart near 100, then that is the busiest month for query searches ever reported in Google during that given time frame.

CT and animation of coin hoard

My colleagues Grant Cox and James Miles have been doing some amazing computerised magic with a coin hoard, and I thought it was time I wrote about their work. Both of them work with me at the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton. The Selby coin hoard consists of a bunch of coins still in their original container. The thing was submitted to a CT scan produced and processed by Richard Boardman and Mark Mavrogordato (mu-Vis CT centre). The results of this were then arranged into a sequence of animation by James Miles while Grant Cox made an accompanying animation in 3DS Max of coins raining down on the container. The video is now on show in the British Museum as part of the permanent Citi money exhibition. Worth a visit!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑