December 1, 2014
The following round table discussion event (see below) might be of interest to readers of this blog (it is definitely of interest to me!). I believe it will give us an insight into the direction the SNAP:DRGN project (which I blogged about earlier) is heading, and possibly an opportunity to contribute to their brainwave. Although the project focuses on linked open data, networks are definitely among their research interests, and the relation between network science and linked open data can always do with some more discussion. New technologies have a place in our workflows, we just need to find it! Linked open data and networks often accompany each other in project descriptions, but the usefulness of pairing them up beyond a metaphorical use of these new technologies needs more critical discussion. This round table might not necessarily be the place this needs to happen, but we will find a suitable venue for this discussion at some point 🙂
Linking Ancient People, Places, Objects and Texts
a round table discussion
Gabriel Bodard (KCL), Daniel Pett (British Museum), Humphrey Southall (Portsmouth), Charlotte Tupman (KCL); with response by Eleanor Robson (UCL)
18:00, Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Anatomy Museum, Strand Building 6th Floor
King’s College London, Strand London WC2R 2LS
As classicists and ancient historians have become increasingly reliant on large online research tools over recent years, it has become ever more imperative to find ways of integrating those tools. Linked Open Data (LOD) has the potential to leverage both the connectivity, accessibility and universal standards of the Web, and the power, structure and semantics of relational data. This potential is being used by several scholars and projects in the area of ancient world and historical studies. The SNAP:DRGN project (snapdrgn.net) is using LOD to bring together many technically varied databases and authorities lists of ancient persons into a single virtual authority file; the Pleiades gazetteer and service projects such as Pelagios and PastPlace are creating open vocabularies for historical places and networks of references to them. Museums and other heritage institutions are at the forefront of work to encode semantic archaeological and material culture data, and projects such as Sharing Ancient Wisdoms (ancientwisdoms.ac.uk) and the Homer Multitext (homermultitext.org) are developing citation protocols and an ontology for relating texts with variants, translations and influences.
The panel will introduce some of these key projects and concepts, and then the audience will be invited to participate in open discussion of the issues and potentials of Linked Ancient World Data.
August 22, 2011
A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Martin Zaltz Austwick of University College London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) for his podcast ‘The Global Lab’. It was good fun talking to Martin. Initially we thought the only thing an archaeologist and an modern-day urban specialist had in common was that we can both talk about bricks (and we did). But our conversation soon turned into something that other people might actually be interested in, or so I hope.
You can check out the interview on the Global Lab homepage (episode 2) or via my bibliography page.
Do have a look at the CASA website as well. It produces fascinating research by world-leading researchers (like Mike Batty) that is very relevant to archaeologists. Especially those of us of the Complexity Science persuasion.
February 15, 2011
I just read this fascinating blog post by Zeynep Tufekci, assistant professor in sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore county. She states that through the democratic nature of the recent revolution in Egypt a hierarchy emerged. A fundamentally leaderless situation gave rise to popular leadership. According to the author this can be explained by the “rich get richer” effect, and she illustrates this with how People on Twitter using the hashtag ‘Jan25’ shows a scale-free power law. Apparently, those people tweeting about the revolution that have alot of followers will end up getting ever more followers. They have become the (digital) leaders of a headless revolutionary event. I find it interesting how this hierarchy and its immediate effects must have been the result of a critical mass of influence reaching a turning point, leading to revolutionary events.
Obviously Twitter is only one medium through which ideas can be spread, and in no way does the “rich get richer” effect explain WHY the revolution happened. What were the individual motivations that led to this large-scale event? What the scale-free model does imply, however, is that the event could not have taken place without these individuals and their actions, their decisions to follow increasingly popular charismatic (albeit digital) figures.
Could this perspective help us understand past revolutions?
Obviously ideas spread much slower in the past than in the present. But that does not mean that revolutions happened any slower or less spontaneous. How could we explore past revolutions through the material remains that we examine as archaeologists? I would be very interested in seeing how changes in material culture attest of a scale-free pattern. A perfect example is Bentley and Shennan’s work on Linear Bandkeramik in Germany. They showed that the patterns on these vessel evolved according to a scale-free power law, where popular motifs were expected to become ever more popular and more influential in future motif design. What fascinates me about this kind of research is that it does not incorporate any measure of originality in innovation. Motifs or ideas might not have been all that revolutionary, for example, but for some reason they became popular and widely adopted. Through them revolutions emerged, more as a result of their relation to other things/people/ideas than their inherent qualities. Still, the question of why this scale-free structure emerges and shapes revolutions remains unanswered. And what about truly revolutionary ideas? Does their adoption show a scale-free structure? And if not, is that really the reason why they did not catch on?