Funding for network analysis and art history project workshops

A new call for projects on network analysis and art history, to receive funding to prepare two week-long meetings in summer 2019 and 2020, and monthly virtual meetings. Funding will be provided for successful teams. Apply before 15 October!

Call for Participation

Workshop Schedule
One-week convening, July 29–August 2, 2019
Monthly virtual convenings, Fall–Spring 2019–2020
Two-week convening, June 22–July 3, 2020


The NA+DAH Workshop is a Getty Foundation-supported event that will bring together art historians, network scientists, and digital humanists to advance research at the intersection of these fields.

Directed by Alison Langmead (University of Pittsburgh), Anne Helmreich (Texas Christian University), and Scott B. Weingart (Carnegie Mellon University)—all scholars engaged with digital art history and network analysis—the Network Analysis + Digital Art History Workshop will unfold over a full year and will be framed by two face-to-face convenings held at the University of Pittsburgh, a schedule that will allow participants to learn advanced digital methods and project management skills while fostering a close-knit interdisciplinary community. By the end of the Workshop, participants will have the expertise and support structure needed to conduct sophisticated research and build advanced projects at the intersection of network analysis and art history.

The NA+DAH workshop will welcome up to eight project teams (representing art historical, technical, and analytic expertise) for a series of in-person and video convenings, with the expectation that teams will also be working and collaborating outside the convening framework to develop and advance their research projects. It is expected that this Getty Advanced Topics in Digital Art History Workshop will lead to a significant body of research and we anticipate a potential edited volume or online repository to share its results.

Event Descriptions
Convening 1: The week-long “Digital Art History + Network Science Institute” will take place from Monday, July 29–Friday, August 2, 2019. During this Institute, participating teams will engage with the grand challenges in digital art history and network analysis, and propose and structure a year-long research agenda (guided by expert facilitators) that uses network analysis to advance art historical inquiry. Potential research topics include museum provenance, exhibition histories, stylistic similarities, and the history of the art market. Teams should begin working on their data and approaches in advance of the event, as the convening will focus on aligning data with project research agendas. Up to three members per team will be supported to attend this convening.

Between Summer 2019 and Summer 2020, the teams will continue to advance their research agendas. Each project team will participate in monthly meetings, convened virtually, to check in on progress and identify further resources as needed. These virtual meetings and related support will be facilitated by a research assistant and augmented by the expertise of the leadership team.

Convening 2: The two-week-long “Co-Working Institute in Art History + Network Science” will take place from Monday June 22–Friday, July 3, 2020. This event will include a rigorous daily agenda consisting of continued training opportunities focused on the exact needs of the teams and current problems in the field, ample project work time, and daily keynote lectures by interdisciplinary experts that offer a larger, field-wide picture. Up to four members per team will be supported to attend this convening.

To Apply
We encourage scholars to apply who are either already engaged in digital art history and wish to work with network analytic approaches in more depth, or who are engaged in network science and seek to understand better how their expertise might be applied to art historical problems. Early, mid, and later-career academic scholars are all welcome to apply, as are teams that include art museum professionals, librarians, advanced graduate students, and others. Teams of at least three that are already formed will receive priority consideration, particularly those demonstrating a pre-existing breadth of technical and art historical expertise. Individual scholars with a project in mind, but who are not yet affiliated with a team, are encouraged to contact the workshop organizers (na-dah@pitt.edu) early to seek assistance in finding potential collaborators with whom they can apply.

Members of the project teams (up to three participants for the 2019 Institute and four for the 2020 Co-Working Institute) will receive funding for travel to Pittsburgh, lodging, and a per diem rate for food. Additional team members may attend if self-funded.

To apply, send a 500-word project proposal, including a statement of the goals for the project, with citations as appropriate (word count is exclusive of citations), as well as a brief description of the project team (no more than 300 words per person), their expertise(s), and a CV for each team member (including links to relevant previous or current digital projects) to na-dah@pitt.edu. Applications are due October 15, 2018 and should be sent in PDF format only.

Once all the applications are reviewed, those teams advancing for final consideration will be interviewed over video conferencing between November 5–16, 2018. Acceptances will be sent by December 14, 2018.

CFP 10th Historical Network Research workshop

Via the Historical Network Research mailing list. The main language of the meeting is in German but English presentations are welcome.

Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt / Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit:

Florian Kerschbaumer / Dr. Tobias Winnerling

28.04.2016-30.04.2016, Düsseldorf, Haus der Universität

Deadline: 25.11.2015

Call for Papers

Fakten verknüpfen, Erkenntnisse schaffen? Historische Netzwerkforschung in Wissens- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Wissenschaft lebt von der Vernetzung. Das Klischee des einsamen Denkers, der isoliert von der Umwelt in seiner Experimentierstube arbeitet, trifft in den seltensten Fällen zu. Wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis entstand in der Regel im Austausch zwischen Wissenschaftlern, im Dialog oder im Streit. Auch der Aspekt der Konkurrenz unter Wissenschaftlern um eine Erkenntnis spielt in diesem Kontext eine Rolle. Kurzum, Wissenschaftler arbeiten in Netzwerken.

Zur Analyse dieser Netzwerke liegt es nahe, sich auf die in den vergangenen Jahren zunehmend populär gewordene Methode der historischen Netzwerkforschung zu beziehen. Lässt sich das Phänomen der Wissenschaft netzwerkanalytisch fassen oder eingrenzen? Wie kann die Komplexität historischer Interaktionen und Akteure im wissenschaftlichen Feld angemessen einbezogen werden? Wie können Konzepte visualisiert und analysiert werden, die sich über die Ebene reiner Personenbeziehungen hinauswagen und als 2-mode, 3-mode … n-mode-Netzwerke angelegt sind? Gerade in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte genügen einfach Person-zu-Person-Netzwerke nicht; es müssen Fragen des Verhältnisses dynamischer (Personen, Institutionen) und statischer Entitäten (Orte, Objekte), individueller (Personen) und kollektiver Akteure (Institutionen, Verbände, Parteien, Gruppen), von Akteuren und Ereignissen (Kongresse, Feste, Begräbnisse), von Produzenten, Produkten und Produktionsstätten (etwa Autor – Verlag – Buch – Ort) und der Wechselwirkungen zwischen all diesen geklärt werden. All diese Möglichkeiten der Konstruktion sinnstiftender Zusammenhänge treffen in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte aufeinander – vielleicht noch mehr.

Daraus ergibt sich die Frage nach den Strukturen, Prozessen und Inhalten der Netzwerke und ihrem Wandel:

Strukturen: Gibt es spezifische Unterschiede zu anderen (nicht-wissenschaftlichen) Netzwerken? Wer waren die Träger der wissenschaftlichen Netzwerke? Welche Rolle spielten Einzelpersönlichkeiten, welche Rolle spielten Institutionen (Vereine, Universitäten, Wissenschaftsorganisationen)?

Prozesse: Wie entstehen wissenschaftliche Netzwerke, wie werden sie erhalten und warum verschwinden sie irgendwann?

Inhalte: Wie hängen wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis und Netzwerke zusammen? Gibt es Unterschiede zwischen den Disziplinen der Wissenschaft?

Der Workshop ist die 10. Veranstaltung der Reihe „Historische Netzwerkforschung“, die bereits seit 2009 ForscherInnen aus allen Bereichen eine Plattform zum Austausch über neue Projekte, Entwicklungen und Techniken im Kontext der Historischen Netzwerkforschung bietet.

Eingesandt werden können daher – ganz im Sinne der Tradition der Veranstaltungsreihe – Vorschläge für Vorträge, die sich in theoretischer und/oder praktischer Hinsicht mit den oben skizzierten Problemen befassen, aber auch zu Projekten der Historischen Netzwerkforschung, die über den hier genannten Themenschwerpunkt hinausgehen. Alle wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen und theoretischen Zugänge sind dabei gleichermaßen willkommen, kreative Herangehensweisen ausdrücklich erwünscht.

Vorschläge für mögliche Präsentationen bitten wir bis zum 25. November 2015 mittels Abstract (ca. 300 Wörter) an winnerling@phil.uni-duesseldorf.de zu senden. Wir bemühen uns um eine Finanzierung der Reise- und Übernachtungskosten, können dies jedoch zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt noch nicht garantieren.

Neben den Vorträgen wird es auch einen Einführungsworkshop in die Historische Netzwerkforschung sowie einen Workshop für Fortgeschrittene geben. Genauere Informationen hierzu werden noch zeitnah angekündigt. Für die Workshops freuen wir uns auf alle Interessierten und laden herzlich zur aktiven Teilnahme ein! Aus organisatorischen Gründen bitten wir auch hier um Voranmeldung unter  winnerling@phil.uni-duesseldorf.de.

Archaeological and historical network analysts unite!

315px-I_Need_You_on_the_Job_Every_Day_-_NARA_-_534704Network science is becoming more commonly applied in both archaeology and history. But this is not happening without difficulties. Pioneers in both disciplines are now trying to overcome the numerous challenges that still surround their use of network techniques: how to deal with fragmentary data, performing analyses over extremely long time spans, using material data in network science to understand past human behaviour, …. I believe archaeologists and historians should face these challenges together! Through collaboration we might come to a better understanding of the use of network science in our disciplines much faster. In a recently published article in Nouvelles de l’Archéologie, Anna Collar, Fiona Coward, Claire Lemercier and myself show how many of the challenges that archaeologists and historians have identified are actually not discipline-specific: we CAN collaborate to tackle them together. Since this article is in French I wanted to provide an English summary of our argumentation here (written with my co-authors). The full article can be downloaded on Academia or through my bibliography page.

History

One of the key aspects of historical sources, compared to archaeological sources, is that the former often allow for the identification of past individuals, by name, and by role. This richness of data at the individual level means that network analytical methods can be very powerful in the illumination of past social networks and the details of particular places and times – offering, where the data are good enough, a window onto past social lives and interactions, and allowing the synchronic analysis of social networks at a particular moment in time.

However, the issues most commonly mentioned by historical network analysts also concern problematic and incomplete data. These issues are undeniably more significant for archaeology and history than for contemporary social sciences such as sociology. But we should not overestimate their potential impact. Even sociological research in contemporary populations face similar issues where full data may not be available for a variety of reasons, and although the problems are clearly more fundamental in history and archaeology, this also means that researchers in both disciplines have long been accustomed to dealing with, and developing methods at least partially compensating for, partial and biased datasets. As a result, this may be one important area where archaeology and history can contribute its expertise to other disciplines working with imperfect network data.

Archaeology

In contrast to history, archaeology is much less frequently furnished with such focused evidence. In archaeology, individuals are typically identified indirectly through the material remains they leave behind, and even where they can be identified, they often remain without names or specified roles.  Not only is archaeological data typically not ‘individualized’, but it can also rarely be attributed an exact date. Most archaeological data typically has date ranges with differing probabilities attached to them, making the establishment of contemporaneity between entities/potential nodes in networks (e.g. individuals; events; settlements) highly problematic. Because of this, archaeologists have tended to focus on the synchronic study of human behavioural change over the long-term, rather than on the diachronic examination of behaviour and interaction. A further characteristic of archaeological data is that it is also likely to be more strongly geographically grounded. Indeed, the geographical location of archaeological data is often among the few pieces of information archaeologists possess. Finally, network analytical methods in archaeology tend to focus most closely on long-term changes in the everyday lives of past peoples.

Common challenges in archaeology and history

Alongside these differences, there are also a number of common challenges facing archaeology and history, as ultimately both disciplines aim to achieve similar goals relating to understanding past interactions and processes.

The most significant of these common challenges are the fragmentary datasets that often characterize both disciplines; we typically deal with bad samples drawn from populations of unknown size and/or with unknown boundaries, snapshots of the past that are heavily biased by differential preservation and/or observation effects. However we argue that this does not exclude the use network techniques in our disciplines, nor does it limit us to only those research contexts for which high quality datasets are available.

A second issue facing our disciplines is that many methodological and theoretical network approaches have been developed in other disciplines to address particular research themes. As a result, they therefore function according to certain rules and/or have certain specific data requirements that might prevent straightforward applications in our disciplines.

Furthermore,  using a network approach to study a past phenomenon necessarily requires a researcher to make a series of decisions about how the parameters of that phenomenon should be represented – for example, what entities to use as nodes and what forms of relationship to model as vertices. Archaeologists and historians familiar with the analytical and visualization techniques used by researchers studying modern phenomena may find many analytical approaches and visualization techniques that are not appropriate or achievable. The past phenomena we are interested in, the kinds of questions our data allows us to ask, and the often very specific parameters of human behaviour assumed by archaeologists and historians for investigating the past, are likely to mean we will ultimately need to develop purpose-made visualization and analysis techniques. At the least we will need to acquire a critical understanding of the various methods available if we are to represent archaeological and historical network  data in appropriate ways – and indeed, to ‘read’ such visualizations and analysis results correctly.

Finally, the poor chronological control characteristic to a certain extent of historical and to a much greater extent of archaeological datasets, limits our knowledge regarding the order in which nodes and links in networks became salient and also the degree of contemporaneity between nodes. This is likely to have significant ramifications for the ways in which archaeologists and historians visualize and analyse networks, driving a need to consider ‘fuzzy’ networks, margins of error and probabilistic models, as well as the consideration of complex processes of network change and evolution over time.

Unite! Meeting the challenges together

In the recent surge of network applications in archaeology and history, it would seem that the two disciplines have thus far focused their efforts on the more obvious potential applications which mirror those most common in other disciplines, such as the identification and interpretation of ‘small-world’ network structure or the choice of datasets that are readily envisaged as or translated into network data (e.g. road and river networks). Such analyses have demonstrated the potential of the methods for archaeological and historical datasets; however, we believe that potential applications go far beyond this, and that network approaches hold a wealth of untapped potential for the study of the past. To achieve this potential, we will need to become more critical and more creative in our applications, and explore not simply what network science can offer the study of the past, but also what our disciplines offer in terms of developing that science – firstly to tackle specifically archaeological and historical questions, but ultimately to broaden the scope of the science itself as methodologies specifically developed for use in archaeological and historical contexts are taken up for use in tackling similar questions in other disciplines.

TCP (2013_05_12 19_17_14 UTC)Initiatives like The Connected Past and Historical Network Research offer a platform that would allow for exactly this kind of interaction between network scientists and those applying network science to the study of the past. The challenges individual members were encountering in our own research across archaeology and history encouraged us to consider developing a mutually supportive space in which to share concerns and problems, and to discuss ideas and approaches for moving beyond these.

We suggest that simply bringing people together through conferences, workshops, conference sessions and more informal groupings is key to fostering the dialogue between the disciplines that is so important to move forward applications of network analysis to the study of the past. Talking to each other across traditional disciplinary boundaries is vital in the ongoing development of network perspectives on the past. However, as noted above, at the same time we also need to be more sensitive to the specific demands of our disciplinary goals and our datasets and develop new network methods that suit our disciplines better. The sociological roots of most social network analysis software packages means that these are often designed and engineered to address discipline-specific research concepts that may not be appropriate for archaeology and history. SNA software has generally been created to deal with interactions between people in a modern setting – where the individual answers to questions about interactions can be documented with a degree of accuracy. As such, this software and network methodologies in general will need to be applied with care and ideally even developed from scratch for use with networks comprised of nodes which are words, texts, places or artefacts, for the characteristically fragmentary and poorly chronologically controlled datasets of archaeology and history, and for research that aims to go beyond the structuring of individual networks of contemporary nodes to investigate questions of network evolution and change. While interdisciplinary dialogue is crucial, we will need to be sensitive to the discipline-specific idiosyncracies of our data and to critique rather than adopt wholesale practices used in other fields. In this way, rather than apologizing for the ‘deficiencies’ of our datasets in comparison with those characteristic of other disciplines, we will also be able to make novel contributions to the wider field based on the new questions and challenges the study of the past offers network science.

Problems with archaeological networks part 4

FSM_on_WallThis fourth blog post in the series discusses process-related issues in archaeological network studies. As I mentioned before, I recently published a review of formal network methods in archaeology in Archaeological Review from Cambridge. I want to share the key problems I raise in this review here on my blog, because in many ways they are the outcomes of working with networks as an archaeologist the last six years. And yes, I encountered more problems than I was able to solve, which is a good thing because I do not want to be bored the next few years 🙂 In a series of four blog posts I draw on this review to introduce four groups of problems that archaeologists are faced with when using networks: method, data, space, and process. The full paper can be found on Academia.

Many archaeological network studies treat networks as static snapshots. This is at least in part a result of the nature of archaeological data and our inability to observe past processes directly. Graph visualisations and many network analysis techniques further enforce this idea of a static network by exploring structural features of particular networks in isolation. However, the past systems we study were dynamic phenomena and the network approach used to understand these phenomena should reflect their changeable nature. In fact, one could argue that no network is truly static since our assumptions underlying the creation of ties imply flows of resources, which are dynamic processes taking place in a changing network.

Archaeological data often does not have the chronological accuracy to reconstruct an exact sequence of events: which ties and nodes appeared and disappeared in what order? A number of network modelling approaches exist that can help one deal with this issue, including agent based modelling (e.g. Graham 2006), algebraic modelling (e.g. Menze and Ur 2012), and statistical modelling (e.g. Lusher et al. 2013). Underlying all of these modelling approaches are clearly formulated assumptions of what a relationship means and what types of flows it allows for. They therefore require one to explicitly acknowledge the dynamic nature of past processes and the dynamic assumptions underlying the definition of ties.

But which model is best? Many models, representing different hypothetical processes, can be created that could all give rise to the same observed network. Since archaeologists cannot directly observe past processes, and given that our data are incomplete and are merely indirect proxies, how then can we ever claim that one model is more probable than any other? The problem of equifinality (the idea that multiple processes can have the same end result) is equally critical for network analysis as for any other technique in the archaeologist’s toolbox. There are a few ways in which formal network methods can help us address this issue. Firstly, archaeological data (however flawed) used in statistical models can help us to identify very general processes that are more probable than others. Secondly, these models can help us to formally express otherwise ill-defined hypotheses and evaluate their likeliness given certain archaeological assumptions. Thirdly, they might not be able to prove certain processes, but models can definitely be used to negatively test or falsify certain hypotheses, or at least identify which processes are less likely than others (given our current knowledge). In this way, such models serve as experimental laboratories (Premo 2006). One has to acknowledge, however, that some past processes are unknowable given our current techniques and datasets. All archaeological approaches suffer from this disadvantage and network analysis is no exception.

References
Graham, S. (2006). Networks, agent-based models and the Antonine Itineraries: implications for Roman archaeology. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 19(1), 45–64.
Lusher, D., Koskinen, J., & Robins, G. (2013). Exponential Random Graph Models for Social Networks. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.
Menze, B. H., & Ur, J. a. (2012). Mapping patterns of long-term settlement in Northern Mesopotamia at a large scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(14), E778–87. doi:10.1073/pnas.1115472109
Premo, L. S. (2006). Agent-based models as behavioral laboratories for evolutionary anthropological research. Arizona Anthropologist, 91–113.

Problems with archaeological networks part 2

Cuddly_Flying_Spaghetti_MonsterThis second blog post in the series discusses data-related issues in archaeological network studies. As I mentioned before, I recently published a review of formal network methods in archaeology in Archaeological Review from Cambridge. I want to share the key problems I raise in this review here on my blog, because in many ways they are the outcomes of working with networks as an archaeologist the last six years. And yes, I encountered more problems than I was able to solve, which is a good thing because I do not want to be bored the next few years 🙂 In a series of four blog posts I draw on this review to introduce four groups of problems that archaeologists are faced with when using networks: method, data, space, and process. The full paper can be found on Academia.

Network analysis is by no means a method devoid of any theoretical considerations. Most interestingly, theoretical critiques are often triggered by issues concerning the role of archaeological data. This is usually a result of the material nature of archaeological data serving as proxy evidence for past human behaviour, which poses a number of challenges.

Firstly, imposing categories and sometimes hierarchical relationships on data is a prerequisite for any network analysis. This results in the assumption that categories can actually be defined with any certainty (Butts 2009), and from the need to establish data categories ahead of the analysis, rather than letting them emerge from the analysis (Isaksen 2013). Indeed, the definition of nodes, ties and the network as a whole can be considered the most crucial phase of any archaeological network analysis. However straightforward such definitions seem, doing so in a critical manner is not as easy as it sounds. For example, we could choose to follow a formal ceramic typology, where each node represents a distinct type. When doing so we have to acknowledge that such typologies are modern constructs and that alternative categorisations can easily be developed. This in turn raises the issue that the network we analyse is not necessarily identical to the past networks we are trying to understand. For example, although in some cases it can be proven that particular ceramic types were used for particular purposes and in certain contexts, their meaning can nevertheless change through time, requiring a modification of our categorisation (van Oyen in press).

Secondly, unlike network analysts in many other disciplines, archaeologists work with primary data sources of a material nature. Social network analysts often only consider inter-personal interactions, whilst archaeological network analysts are forced to consider object-person and object-object interactions. A range of interactionist theoretical perspectives exist to confront materiality, and archaeological network analysts are faced with finding a workable framework that combines both network theories and methods (Knappett 2011).

In summary, the decisions archaeological network analysts make when defining nodes and edges, when selecting or modifying analytical techniques and when interpreting the outcomes, are fundamentally influenced by their theoretical preconceptions. There is not a single right way to incorporate and interpret archaeological data in network approaches.

References:
Butts, C. T. (2009). Revisiting the foundations of network analysis. Science, 325(5939), 414–6. doi:10.1126/science.1171022
Isaksen, L. (2013). “O What A Tangled Web We Weave” – Towards a Practice That Does Not Deceive. In C. Knappett (Ed.), Network analysis in archaeology. New approaches to regional interaction (pp. 43–70). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Knappett, C. (2011). An archaeology of interaction. Network perspectives on material culture and society. Oxford – New York: Oxford University Press.
Oyen, A. Van. (n.d.). Networks or work-nets? Actor-Network Theory and multiple social topologies in the production of Roman terra sigillata. In T. Brughmans, A. Collar, & F. Coward (Eds.), The Connected Past: challenging networks in archaeology and history. Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press.

Problems with archaeological networks part 1

Plate_of_SpaghettiAs I mentioned before, I recently published a review of formal network methods in archaeology in Archaeological Review from Cambridge. I want to share the key problems I raise in this review here on my blog, because in many ways they are the outcomes of working with networks as an archaeologist the last six years. And yes, I encountered more problems than I was able to solve, which is a good thing because I do not want to be bored the next few years 🙂 In a series of four blog posts I draw on this review to introduce four groups of problems that archaeologists are faced with when using networks: method, data, space process. The full paper can be found on Academia. This first blog post in the series discusses methodological issues, enjoy 🙂

Like any other formal techniques in the archaeologist’s toolbox (e.g. GIS, radiocarbon dating, statistics), formal network techniques are methodological tools that work according to a set of known rules (the algorithms underlying them). These allow the analyst to answer certain questions (the network structural results of the algorithms), and have clear limitations (what the algorithms are not designed to answer). This means that their formal use is fundamentally limited by what they are designed to do, and that they can only be critically applied in an archaeological context when serving this particular purpose. In most cases, however, these formal network results are not the aim of one’s research; archaeologists do not use network methods just because they can. Instead one thinks through a networks perspective about the past interactions and systems one is actually interested in. This reveals an epistemological issue that all archaeological tools struggle with: there is a danger that formal networks are equated with the past networks we are trying to understand (Isaksen 2013; Knox et al. 2006; Riles 2001). In other cases, however, formal analysis is avoided altogether and concepts adopted from formal network methods are used to describe hypothetical past structures or processes (e.g. Malkin 2011). Although this sort of network thinking can lead to innovative hypotheses, it is not formal network analysis (see reviews of Malkin (2011) by Ruffini (2012) and Brughmans (2013)). However, such concepts adopted from formal network methods often have a very specific meaning to network analysts and are associated with data requirements in order to express them. Most crucially, when the concepts one uses to explain a hypothesis cannot be demonstrated through data (not even hypothetically through simulation), there is a real danger that these concepts become devalued since they are not more probable than any other hypotheses. Moreover, the interpretation of past social systems runs the risk of becoming mechanised when researchers adopt the typical interpretation of network concepts from the SNA or physics literature without validating their use with archaeological data or without modifying their interpretation to a particular archaeological research context. This criticism is addressed at the adoption of formal network concepts only. It should be clear that other theoretical concepts could well use a similar vocabulary whilst not sharing the same purpose or data requirements, in which case I would argue to refrain from using the same word to refer to different concepts or explicitly address the difference between these concepts in order to avoid confusion.

Although it is easy to claim that the rules underlying formal network techniques are known, it is less straightforward to assume that the traditional education of archaeologists allows them to decipher these algorithms. Archaeologists are not always sufficiently equipped to critique the mathematical underpinnings of network techniques, let alone to develop novel techniques tailor-made to address an archaeological question. For many archaeologists this means a real barrier or at least a very steep learning curve. Sadly, it also does not suffice to focus one’s efforts on the most common techniques or on learning graph theory. Like GIS, network analysis is not a single homogeneous method: it incorporates every formal technique that visualises or analyses the interactions between nodes (either hypothetical or observed), and it is only the particular nature of the network as a data type that holds these techniques together (Brandes et al. 2013). For this purpose it draws on graph theory, statistical and probability theory, algebraic models, but also agent-based modelling and GIS.

A thorough understanding of the technical underpinnings of particular network techniques is not an option; it is a prerequisite for a critical interpretation of the results. A good example of this is network visualisation. Many archaeologists consider the visualisation of networks as graphs a useful exploratory technique to understand the nature of their data, in particular when combined with geographical visualisations (e.g. Golitko et al. 2012). However, there are many different graph layout algorithms, and all of them are designed for a particular purpose: to communicate a certain structural feature most efficiently (Conway 2012; Freeman 2005). These days, user-friendly network analysis software is freely available and most of it includes a limited set of layouts, often not offering the option of modifying the impact of variables in the layout algorithms. Not understanding the underlying ‘graph drawing aesthetics’ or limiting one’s exploration to a single layout will result in routinized interpretations focusing on a limited set of the network’s structural features.

Archaeologists who consider the application of network methods to achieve their research aims must be able to identify and evaluate such issues. Multi-disciplinary engagement or even collaboration significantly aids this evaluation process.

References:
Brandes, U., Robins, G., McCranie, A., & Wasserman, S. (2013). What is network science? Network Science, 1(01), 1–15. doi:10.1017/nws.2013.2
Brughmans, T. (2013). Review of I. Malkin 2011. A Small Greek World. Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. The Classical Review, 63(01), 146–148. doi:10.1017/S0009840X12002776
Conway, S. (2012). A Cautionary Note on Data Inputs and Visual Outputs in Social Network Analysis. British Journal of Management. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8551.2012.00835.x
Freeman, L. C. (2005). Graphic techniques for exploring social network data. In P. J. Carrington, J. Scott, & S. Wasserman (Eds.), Models and methods in social network analysis (Vol. 5, pp. 248–268). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.3917/enje.005.0059
Golitko, M., Meierhoff, J., Feinman, G. M., & Williams, P. R. (2012). Complexities of collapse : the evidence of Maya obsidian as revealed by social network graphical analysis. Antiquity, 86, 507–523.
Isaksen, L. (2013). “O What A Tangled Web We Weave” – Towards a Practice That Does Not Deceive. In C. Knappett (Ed.), Network analysis in archaeology. New approaches to regional interaction (pp. 43–70). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Knox, H., Savage, M., & Harvey, P. (2006). Social networks and the study of relations: networks as method, metaphor and form. Economy and Society, 35(1), 113–140. doi:10.1080/03085140500465899
Malkin, I. (2011). A small Greek world: networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford – New York: Oxford University Press.
Riles, A. (2001). The Network inside Out. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Ruffini, G. (2012). Review of Malkin, I. 2011 A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. American Historical Review, 1643–1644.

Network Analysis with Cytoscape Tutorial

visEver wanted to learn network analysis on your own but thought it’s just a bit too scary? Many friends and colleagues I talk to about networks sure seem to feel this way. Well, network analysis does not have to be difficult or scary at all. There are many free network software platforms out there and many of them have a user-friendly interface. I decided to make a tutorial I have been using for a few years now publicly available, in the hope that it can be of interest and help to some.

In this tutorial you will learn how to create, visualise and analyse networks using Cytoscape, and how to export the results of these analyses. This practical is conceived as an introduction to exploratory network analysis for the Humanities, using an archaeological/geographical example. Moreover, the resource includes a list of introductory bibliography and software. Have a look at my resources page to download the tutorial. Good luck!

Second Connected Past conference in Paris!

TCPI’ve got some very exciting news! On 26 April 2014 we will organise the second ‘The Connected Past’ conference! As we did in 2012 it will be a satellite event to the CAA conference, which will be held in Paris in April 2014. The Connected Past conference will be held in Paris Sciences Po and the organisation is led by Prof. Claire Lemercier. Our call for papers is now open and we welcome short abstracts by the 12 November.

We thank the CAA for supporting this initiative!
See the full call for papers below or on the Connected Past website.

Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

(French version below)

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Connected Past
A satellite conference at CAA 2014, Paris
26 April 2014 in Paris Sciences Po. Deadline abstract submission: 12 November 2013.

With the Support of Sciences Po, the DYREM research program, Médialab, and the French network of historical network analysis.

Held Saturday April 26th 2014 in Sciences Po, rooms Albert Sorel and Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris (metro Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Rue du Bac)

Organisers: Claire Lemercier (CNRS, Sciences Po, Paris), Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton), The Connected Past steering committee.

The Connected Past is a community led by a multi-disciplinary international steering committee. It aims to provide discussion platforms for the development of original and critical applications of network and complexity approaches to archaeology and history. To this purpose The Connected Past organises international conferences, focused seminars and practical didactic workshops.

Over the past decade ‘network’ has become a buzz-word in many disciplines across the humanities and sciences. Researchers in archaeology and history in particular are increasingly exploring network-based theory and methodologies drawn from complex network models or social network analysis as a means of understanding dynamic social relationships in the past, as well as technical relationships in their data. This series of conferences aims to provide a platform for pioneering, multidisciplinary, collaborative work by researchers working to develop network approaches and their application to the past.

The conference will be held immediately after the CAA conference (Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology), also happening in Paris, allowing participants to easily attend both – but participants from other disciplines, especially history, are also most welcome.

The conference aims to:

  • Provide a forum for the presentation of network-based research applied to archaeological or historical questions
  • Discuss the practicalities and implications of applying network perspectives and methodologies to archaeological and historical data in particular
  • Strengthen the group of researchers interested in the potential of network approaches for archaeology and history
  • Foster cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaborative work towards integrated analytical frameworks for understanding complex networks
  • Stimulate debate about the application of network theory and analysis within archaeology and history in particular, but also more widely, and highlight the relevance of this work for the continued development of network theory in other disciplines

We welcome contributions addressing any of (but not restricted to) the following themes:

  • The diffusion of innovations, people and objects in the past
  • Social network analysis in archaeology and history
  • The dynamics between physical and relational space
  • Evolving, multilevel and multiplex networks
  • Emergent properties in complex networks
  • Agency, structuration and complexity in network approaches
  • Future directions for network approaches in archaeology and history

Please email proposed titles and abstracts (max. 250 words) by November 12th 2013 to: connectedpast@soton.ac.uk

Complete papers will not be required. Oral presentations will be limited to 15 minutes so as to leave room for discussion. The abstracts should be written in English, but French talks accompanied by an English presentation, or vice versa, will be admitted, and French questions or answers will be welcome during the debates. Lunch will be offered to presenters and hopefully to all participants, but the organizers cannot fund travel or lodging.

There are no attendance fees. Although this event is free of charge, registration is required and the number of places is limited. Registration to the event will open once the final programme is advertised in late November, and places will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

A “The Connected Past” practical workshop, “Introduction to network analysis for archaeologists” will also be organized during CAA2014 in Paris (see the CAA programme).

—- French version —–

The Connected Past
Dans le cadre du congrès CAA 2014 (informatique et méthodes quantitatives en archéologie) à Paris

Un événement organisé par le réseau “The Connected Past”

Avec le soutien de Sciences Po Paris, du programme de recherche DYREM, du Médialab et du groupe Res-Hist, Réseaux et Histoire

Samedi 26 avril 2014 à Sciences Po, amphithéâtres Albert Sorel et Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris (métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés ou Rue du Bac)

Organisation : Claire Lemercier (CNRS, Sciences Po, Paris), Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton), The Connected Past comité scientifique

“The Connected Past” est un groupe de chercheurs doté d’un comité scientifique international et interdisciplinaire. Son objectif est d’offrir des lieux de discussion autour du développement d’applications originales des approches en termes de réseaux et de complexité en archéologie et en histoire. Pour cela, il organise depuis 2011 des colloques, séminaires et ateliers de formation.

Le mot “réseau” est de plus en plus à la mode depuis maintenant plusieurs décennies, dans la plupart des disciplines, y compris de sciences humaines et sociales. En histoire et en archéologie notamment, les théories et méthodes centrées sur les réseaux, souvent inspirées de l’analyse de réseaux sociaux ou des sciences de la complexité, sont de plus en plus souvent mobilisées, que ce soit pour parler des liens sociaux du passé ou pour traiter des données empiriques portant sur d’autres types de relations (impliquant des lieux, objets, etc.). La série de journées “The Connected Past” propose un lieu commun pour discuter de travaux de ce type, appliquant des approches des réseaux au passé, quelle que soit leur discipline d’origine.

La journée de Paris se tiendra dans la foulée du congrès d’archéologie CAA, afin de permettre à ses participants d’être présents s’ils le souhaitent ; mais les propositions pour la journée émanant d’autres disciplines et notamment de l’histoire sont tout à fait bienvenues, indépendamment de toute participation au congrès CAA.

Les objectifs de la journée sont de :

  • Proposer un lieu commun de présentation pour des recherches appliquant des approches des réseaux à des questions archéologiques ou historiques
  • Discuter les spécificités et les implications de ces approches pour ces questions et types de données particuliers
  • Contribuer à la constitution d’un groupe de chercheur.se.s intéressé.e.s par le potentiel de ces approches en archéologie et en histoire
  • Encourager le dialogue interdisciplinaire et la recherche collective dans le domaine des réseaux complexes
  • Faire vivre les débats sur l’application des théories et méthodes sur les réseaux, en histoire, archéologie, et en retour dans d’autres disciplines.

Les propositions pour la journée de Paris peuvent notamment se rattacher aux thèmes suivants (liste non limitative) :

  • La diffusion ou la migration d’innovations, de personnes, d’objets dans le passé
  • L’analyse de réseaux sociaux en archéologie ou en histoire
  • Les dynamiques liées d’espaces physiques et relationnels
  • Les réseaux multiplexes, multiniveaux, longitudinaux
  • Les propriétés émergentes des réseaux complexes
  • Agency, structure et complexité dans les approches des réseaux
  • L’avenir possible des approches des réseaux en histoire et en archéologie

Merci d’envoyer vos propositions (titre et résumé de 250 mots maximum, en anglais) à connectedpast@soton.ac.uk pour le 12 novembre 2013.
L’envoi d’articles complets ne sera pas demandé. Les présentations orales seront limitées à 15 minutes, de manière à laisser un temps important aux discussions. Les propositions doivent être envoyées en anglais pour permettre un examen incluant l’équipe non francophone de “The Connected Past”. En revanche, il sera possible de donner une communication orale en français accompagnée d’une présentation projetée en anglais, ou l’inverse, et d’intervenir en français dans les discussions.

Le repas de midi sera offert aux auteurs de communications et, nous l’espérons, à l’ensemble des participants. En revanche, les éventuels trajets et nuits d’hôtel resteront à la charge des auteurs de communications.
Il n’y a pas de frais d’inscription, mais, du fait de la taille des amphithéâtres, il sera demandé de s’inscrire auprès des organisateurs (en cas d’inscriptions trop nombreuses, seuls les premiers pourront entrer !). Fin novembre, la liste des communications acceptées sera annoncée et l’adresse d’inscription sera indiquée dans le même temps.

Notez enfin deux autres événements connexes auxquels nous vous encourageons également à participer

  • Un atelier pratique “The Connected Past” dans le cadre de la CAA : introduction aux réseaux sociaux pour archéologues (en anglais), voir CAA.
  • Les 9-11 avril 2014 à Toulouse, les secondes rencontres Res-Hist sur l’analyse de réseaux en histoire, avec des invités étrangers, des présentations de recherches en cours et des ateliers pratiques de formation.

 

Programme first French Historical Networks group

A group of French Historians recently set up Res-Hist, a project to bring together the community of french-speaking researchers working with networks in history. The programme of their first meeting is just out and it looks really impressive. Make sure you put this one in your schedule!

You will find below the program of the first meeting of the Res-Hist group, which aims at fostering discussion among French-speaking historians interested in network analysis. The group also has a blog at reshist.hypotheses.org, including texts or abstracts of the presentations for the Nice meeting.
One of the next meetings (they will be held in Paris and Toulouse in 2014-5), will include close disciplines (archaeology, geography, sociology, political science, etc.) and the other will be used to establish ties with historians from other countries/using other languages -> you’ll hear more about them in time!

Réseaux et Histoire

Premières rencontres scientifiques du groupe Res-Hist

organisées par le Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine, en partenariat avec l’Institut Universitaire de France
et la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société Sud-Est

 

Nice, 26-28 septembre 2013

Jeudi 26 septembre 2013

De l’utilisation des réseaux en histoire : retours d’expériences

9h15 : Accueil

9h30 : Introduction par Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire et Silvia Marzagalli (CMMC, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis et Institut Universitaire de France)

9h45-10h30 : Nicolas Verdier (CNRS, Géographie-cités, Paris), Passer par les évolutions du réseau d’un réseau technique pour comprendre les évolutions de l’espace : La poste aux chevaux en France au XVIIIe siècle.

10h30-11h15 : Stéphane Frioux (UMR 5190 LARHRA, Université Lyon 2), Les réseaux de la modernité : circulation des savoirs et diffusion de l’innovation en hygiène urbaine (France, fin XIXe siècle-années 1930).

11h15-11h30 : Pause-café

11h30-12h15 : Florent Hautefeuille (Université de Toulouse II), Des sources fiscales médiévales à la reconstruction des systèmes relationnels : étude d’une communauté paysanne.

12h15-13h : Jérôme  Lamy (LabEx Structuration des Mondes Sociaux, Université de Toulouse), Les astronomes toulousains et la République des Lettres au 18e siècle : modes de communication et structure des réseaux

13h-14h15 : Pause repas

14h15-15h : Isabelle Rosé (Université Rennes II), Comment utiliser, transposer et adapter l’analyse de réseaux égocentrés aux sociétés du haut Moyen Âge? Quelques propositions de méthode autour de deux études de cas.

15h-15h45 : Andoni Artola (Université du Pays Basque), La notion de réseau dans l´étude du developpement idéologique. Le cas de l´épiscopat espagnol (1760-1839).

15h45-16h15 : Pause-café

16h15-17h00 : Pierre Gervais (Université Paris III), L’analyse de réseau en autodidacte: critique et illustration. Le cas de la base de données ANR Marprof sur la comptabilité marchande du XVIIIe siècle et de son usage.

17h00-17h45 : Vincent Gourdon (CNRS, Centre Roland Mousnier, Université Paris IV), Les témoins de mariage civil dans les villes européennes du XIXe siècle : quel intérêt pour l’analyse des réseaux familiaux et sociaux ?

17h45-18h30 : Elisa Grandi (Université Paris Diderot), Politiques locales et experts internationaux: Les réseaux de la Banque Mondiale en Colombie (1949-1970).

 

Vendredi 27 septembre

 

Atelier de doctorants et jeunes chercheurs I 

9h00-9h30 : Andurand Anthony (PLH-ERASME, Université Toulouse-Le Mirail), L’analyse des réseaux sociaux comme outil d’analyse textuelle : le cas des Propos de table de Plutarque.

9h30-10h00 : Deschanel Boris (IDHE, université Paris I), L’analyse de réseau appliquée aux trajectoires sociales des négociants dauphinois, de la Révolution à la Restauration.

10h00-10h30 : Gonzalez-Quijano Lola (LaDéHiS, EHESS), Le demi-monde : prostitution et réseaux sociaux dans le Paris du XIXe siècle.

10h30–11h00 : Pause café

11h00-11h30 : Elise Lehoux (EHESS), Entre France et Allemagne, réflexions autour du réseau de sociabilité et des traditions savantes de l’archéologue Aubin-Louis Millin.

11h30-12h30 : Alvaro Chaparro (CMMC, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis), Bases de données et application de l’analyse des réseaux. L’expérience de Fichoz et de Navigocorpus

12h30-13h30 : Pause buffet

13h30-14h00 : Bertoncello Frédérique et Marie-Jeanne Ouriachi (CEPAM, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis), Des lieux et des hommes : réseaux de peuplement et réseaux familiaux dans l’Antiquité.

14h00-14h30 : Smyrnelis Marie-Carmen (Institut Catholique de Paris / EHESS), Identités, réseaux, espaces en Méditerranée et en Europe au XIXe siècle. L’exemple de familles grecques.

14h30-15h00 : Pallini-Martin Agnès (EHESS, ANR ENPrESA), Réseaux commerciaux et politiques des Florentins à Lyon autour de 1500.

15h00-15h30 : Viera Rebolledo-Dhuin (CHCSC, Université Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines), Dynamiques des réseaux de crédit à Paris au XIXe siècle.

15h30-16h00 Pause-café

16h00-17h00 : Beauguitte Laurent (groupe fmr – flux, matrices, réseaux), Régionalisation politique et gouvernance mondiale : l’ONU au prisme des réseaux.

17h00-18h00 : Gasperoni Michaël (EHESS), Histoire et réseaux de parenté : concepts, outils, méthodes

Samedi 28 septembre

Atelier de doctorants et jeunes chercheurs II 

9h00-9h30 : Nabias Laurent (CHSCO, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre), Etude prosopographique et analyse des réseaux de l’ancienne noblesse francilienne de Philippe Auguste à Charles VII (1180-1430).

09h30-10h00 : Marylou Nguyen Hoang Phong (Université Paris-Est), Pouvoir et réseaux égocentrés à l’époque moderne. Présentation d’une tension conceptuelle et méthodologique.

10h00-10h30 : Pierre-Marie Delpu (Centre d’histoire du XIXe siècle, Université Paris I), Les réseaux libéraux napolitains (premier XIXe siècle) : insertion transnationale et modernisation locale.

10h30-11h00 : Vivien Faraut (CMMC, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis), Les réseaux libéraux sous la Restauration.

11h00-11h20 : Pause-café

11h20-13h00 : Discussions et conclusions

Comité scientifique :

Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis – Institut Universitaire de France)

Michel Bertrand (Université de Toulouse – Institut Universitaire de France)

Claire Lemercier (CNRS-Sciences Po Paris)

Silvia Marzagalli (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis – Institut Universitaire de France)

Zacarias Moutoukias (Université Paris Diderot-Paris VII)

SNA Summer School Trier

Image from University Trier website.
Image from University Trier website.
Dear German-speaking friends (and everyone who likes the sound of the German language)! The University of Trier will organise a summer school in Social Network Analysis on 23-28 September 2013. My friends Marten Düring and Martin Stark, both historians, will be instructors at the Summer School. The school offers a one-week intense course in SNA, papers, workshops and software sessions. Sounds good? Sign up!

More info can be found on the Trier website and below.

Trie­rer Sum­mer School on So­ci­al Net­work Ana­ly­sis
23.-28. Sep­tem­ber 2013

Die Trie­rer Sum­mer School on So­ci­al Net­work Ana­ly­sis bie­tet im Rah­men eines ein­wö­chi­gen In­ten­siv­an­ge­bots eine um­fas­sen­de Ein­füh­rung in die theo­re­ti­schen Kon­zep­te, Me­tho­den und An­wen­dun­gen der So­zia­len Netz­werkana­ly­se. Die Ver­an­stal­tung rich­tet sich an Nach­wuchs­wis­sen­schaft­le­rIn­nen und Stu­die­ren­de aller geis­tes-, kul­tur- und so­zi­al­wis­sen­schaft­li­chen Fä­cher, die sich mit der Ana­ly­se so­zia­ler Struk­tu­ren be­schäf­ti­gen und Ein­blick in die Me­tho­den der So­zia­len Netz­werkana­ly­se (SNA) neh­men möch­ten.

Das An­ge­bot auf einem Blick

eine Woche in­ten­si­ve Ein­füh­rung in die SNA durch Ex­per­ten
in­di­vi­du­el­le For­schungs­be­ra­tung durch die Do­zen­ten
ein­füh­ren­de Li­te­ra­tur im On­line-Ap­pa­rat sowie Lern­ma­te­ria­li­en
Ein­füh­rung in gän­gi­ge Soft­ware zur SNA (Pajek, Gephi)
Gast­vor­trag: Mi­ri­am J. Lub­bers (Uni­ver­si­tat Autònoma de Bar­ce­lo­na) „The dy­na­mics of per­so­nal net­works of im­mi­grants over an eight-ye­ar pe­ri­od“
Work­shop „Mixed Me­thods“/„Vi­su­al Net­work Re­se­arch“ (Net-Map, Venn­Ma­ker)
Work­shop „Data Mi­ning und an­ge­wand­te Netz­werkana­ly­se“
Work­shop „Pro­zess­ge­ne­rier­te Daten und his­to­ri­sche Netz­werkana­ly­se“
An­rech­nung der Sum­mer School nach ECTS mit 3 credit points
Ver­pfle­gung mit Snacks und Ge­trän­ken wäh­rend der Ver­an­stal­tung
an­ge­neh­me Ler­n­at­mo­sphä­re mit vie­len Ge­le­gen­hei­ten für “so­ci­al net­wor­king”
abend­li­ches Rah­men­pro­gramm (ge­mein­sa­mes Abend­es­sen/Stadt­rund­gang)

Hestia2 seminar: registration open

hestiaThe Hestia project is pleased to announce “HESTIA2: Exploring spatial networks through ancient sources”, a one-day seminar on spatial network analysis and linked data in Classical studies, archaeology and cultural heritage.

The seminar will be held at The University of Southampton on 18 July. Registration for this event is free, but we do recommend registering as early as possible since the number of available places is limited. More information, including abstracts and registration, can be found on The Connected Past website.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Southampton!

Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovski, Leif Isaksen and Tom Brughmans

HESTIA2: Exploring spatial networks through ancient sources

University of Southampton 18th July 2013
Organisers: Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovski, Leif Isaksen and Tom Brughmans
In collaboration with The Connected Past

A free one-day seminar on spatial network analysis in archaeology, history, classics, teaching and commercial archaeology.

Spatial relationships appear throughout our sources about the past: from the ancient roads that connect cities, or ancient authors mentioning political alliances between places, to the stratigraphic contexts archaeologists deal with in their fieldwork. However, as datasets about the past become increasingly large, spatial relationships become ever more difficult to disentangle. Network visualization and analysis allow us to address such spatial relationships explicitly and directly. This seminar aims to explore the potential of these innovative techniques for research in the higher education, public and cultural heritage sectors.

The seminar is part of Hestia2, a public engagement project aimed at introducing a series of conceptual and practical innovations to the spatial reading and visualisation of texts. Following on from the AHRC-funded initiative ‘Network, Relation, Flow: Imaginations of Space in Herodotus’s Histories’ (Hestia), Hestia2 represents a deliberate shift from experimenting with geospatial analysis of a single text to making Hestia’s outcomes available to new audiences and widely applicable to other texts through a seminar series, online platform, blog and learning materials with the purpose of fostering knowledge exchange between researchers and non-academics, and generating public interest and engagement in this field.

Registration

Registration for this event is now open. Please follow the instructions on the HESTIA2 Eventbrite page to obtain your ticket (no payment card needed).

The HESTIA2 seminar is free to attend but registration is required. Since places are limited we suggest you register as soon as possible.

Programme

11:00 Registration and coffee

11:30 HESTIA-team

  • Welcome and introduction to HESTIA and HESTIA2

12:00 Maximilian Schich (The University of Texas at Dallas)

12:25 Alex Godden (Hampshire County Council)

12:50 John Goodwin (Ordnance Survey)

13:15 Discussion

13:35 Tea and coffee break

13:55 Terhi Nurmikko (University of Southampton)

14:20 Kate Byrne (University of Edinburgh)

14:45 Giorgio Uboldi (Politecnico di Milano)

15:10 Discussion

15:35 Tea and coffee break

16:00 Keith May (English Heritage)

16:25 Paul Cripps (University of South Wales)

How I almost missed a great conference: Two days of Tracing Networks at the British Academy

tracng networksSometimes conferences can be quite predictable: I know who I will meet, I know what I will hear, I know where I will get a drink at the end of the day. The Tracing Networks conference held at the British Academy two weeks ago was not one of those predictable events, for a number of reasons. First of all, because I forgot all about it. I woke up one day and noticed two days of Tracing Networks in my calendar. I arrived at the venue without having a clue who would be there, who would present, what they would be talking about and where I could get a drink. And I can definitely recommend forgetting about conferences to everyone, because the event turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.

Lin Foxhall giving the opening address, with Anthony Harding
Lin Foxhall giving the opening address, with Anthony Harding
Lin Foxhall gave the opening address in name of the Tracing Networks team. Her talk was an overview of the project, and their search for a suitable methodological framework. This self-reflective and honest discourse was really fascinating. Lin went through a range of arguments why actor-network theory and formal network methods were not suitable. She said that network perspectives are good to think with but meaningfully and rigorously applying them within an archaeological context is particularly difficult. In my opinion this is totally true and cannot be emphasized enough. The team found a method based on ontologies and semantic web most appropriate for dealing with the large and very diverse datasets the project is concerned with.

Another presentation that interested me was Borja Legarra Herrero’s talk on using SNA for studying social change in Late Bronze Age Southern Spain. Some of his slides and parts of his paper revealed a very useful side of networks: their ability to communicate simple but useful structural ideas as small graphs representing different extreme hypotheses (e.g. star graph vs line graph vs circle graph). The usefulness of networks as a tool for communication is often uncritically exaggerated. I learned from experience that showing people real networks representing real data results in awkward silences: people don’t get it. True, these graphs become extremely useful once you understand the layout algorithm and play around with alternative visualizations. But their ability to communicate simple ideas is trivial compared to simplifying graphs of just a few nodes and links.

Leif Isaksen at Tracing Networks
Leif Isaksen at Tracing Networks
This issue came up again during Steve Conway’s reflections on graph visualizations. His paper took my own article in Oxford Journal of Archaeology as a starting point, and tried to find similar trends to the ones I described in his review of the use of formal network methods in the managerial literature. He identified some really familiar sounding issues: there is a tendency to conflate time; a tendency to ossify, to make static; an over-emphasis on the overall network and ignoring individual nodes; a tendency to let the network visualization speak for itself; and an under-emphasis on context. These are all common issues with the use of network visualizations, which are never neutral and are as laden with decisions and assumptions as any other communication medium (Steve wrote an interesting article about this in the british journal of management). This does not mean network visualizations are useless, or even bad at what they do. One just needs to approach and use them with as informed an understanding as possible of the decisions and assumptions that went into their creation.

Another paper that interested me was delivered by Peter Van Dommelen. He opened his talk on a sobering note, stating that “networks are not everything, we need to understand what is going on inside the nodes themselves”. Peter was mainly concerned with developing a critical archaeological approach to the study of migrations, stressing that the context of migrations need to be understood. He argued that there was a reluctance to discuss migration in archaeology since two decades because earlier migration studies were overly simplistic. That’s why we need to look beyond and below networks, we need to contextualize migrations, because the arrows on a map approach is just not good enough. We don’t just want to trace the large-scale, possibly state-enforced networks, but also the personal small-scale networks. We need a focus on communities on the ground if we want to understand what is going on inside the nodes. It is in the end the people who matter, they did not just trace but created the networks we are talking about. Peter discussed his ideas in the context of Nurraghic culture in Sardinia. He is of course right, but I have the impression that up til now the people that are “doing networks” have tended to go for the big datasets evidencing large-scale patterns, because there is just such a good fit with the network methods. However, this means that the challenge of local-scale, more contextualized archaeological network analysis remained under-explored.

Carl Knappett at Tracing Networks
Carl Knappett at Tracing Networks
… Until now? Carl Knappett clearly did not shy away from more small-scale and contextualized network approaches. His paper provided a balanced overview of network methods and theories, of the issues involved and the potential gains of a networks perspective for archaeology. He argued that network analysis in archaeology works best if node selection is unproblematic. It imposes some sort of order over a messy dataset. Although this is undeniably the case, it has to be said that some archaeologists are making real progress in confronting this issue. Ethan Cochrane and Carl Lipo explore how different artefact classifications emerge when different network approaches are used. In his PhD thesis Matt Peoples compares networks of ceramics classified by traditional ware typologies with networks of ceramic technical features. Carl continues by stating the importance of node definition and that this is a theoretical decision, i.e. it is wrong to think that SNA is untheoretical (Carl referred to Butts’ 2009 paper in Science). I could not agree more. The decisions an archaeological network analyst makes when defining nodes and edges, when selecting or modifying analytical techniques and when interpreting the outcomes are fundamentally influenced by their theoretical preconceptions. When I was recently tackling this issue for one of my case-studies I challenged myself to come up with at least two different ways of creating a network from the same dataset; in the end I found ten! Other issues raised by Carl involved temporal and geographical scales. He claimed that although archaeological network methods are often static, this is not a problem of the network perspective per se. In fact, the meaning of nodes or categories of analysis can emerge through the process of thinking through networks (Carl referred to Astrid Van Oyen’s work on comparing ANT and SNA). Carl challenged many of these issues head-on through his case studies from Bronze Age Crete, which revealed exactly how challenging they really are.

The Tracing Networks conference was a great experience, not in the least because I was genuinely surprised to see so many scholars there with shared interests doing fascinating work. I am looking forward to the proceedings and to forgetting about some of the upcoming conferences in my calendar.

Swiss DH summer school features network analysis

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 14.29.46A new DH initiative is born! Please welcome the first Swiss DH summer school, held June 26-29 2013 at the University of Bern. The programme features the eclectic mix of digital techniques with a Humanities angle that has become typical in DH. The tutors included in the programme are all great lecturers and I believe will guarantee a high-quality learning experience. Of particular interest is the course on Network Analysis by Claire Lemercier. Claire is a Modern Historian with a particular passion for networks. Her publications range from critical reviews of network methods in the historical discipline to solid quantitative approaches to particular historical problems. Also of interest is the workshop on network visualisation by Martin Grandjean. Martin will use the user-friendly software platform GEPHI, which has been called the Photoshop of network visualisation. I prefer to call it the ‘make my network look good’ platform: Gephi has a wide range of customisable graph layout algorithms and all aspects of a network’s visualisation can be changed to your liking. I can definitely recommend attending this summer school for the network component.

More information can be found on the website. Registration is open and limited to 60 people, so hurry!

Happy New Year! and CAAUK

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 17.10.32Happy New Year all! There are a couple of events in 2013 I am really looking forward to, including the CAA conference in Perth and the SAAs in Hawaii, more about those later. The first conference of the year for me will be CAAUK in London, on 22-23 February. The programme sounds great, with a keynote by Mark Lake discussing the special issue of World Archaeology he recently edited on Open Archaeology. Registration is now open but almost full, so hurry up if you wanna be part of it!

I will present a poster on a project Iza Romanowska and I have set up: ‘A Connected Island?: how the Iron Curtain affected archaeologists’. We are touring Central Europe’s libraries for this project, collecting publications by Central European Palaeolithic archaeologists. We hope to be able to evaluate the interactions between Western and Central European archaeologists, and we hope our methodology of citation network analysis will help us do this. More about the project in later posts! The poster will be presented by Iza at the Unravelling the Palaeolithic conference in Cambridge this weekend. Here is the abstract:

‘A Connected Island?’: How the Iron Curtain affected Palaeolithic Archaeologists in Central Europe

Iza Romanowska (Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins, University of Southampton)
Tom Brughmans (Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton)

After the Second World War the Iron Curtain sliced through the very centre of Europe. The Soviet regime introduced a new structure to the academic institutions in countries like Poland, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia, including restrictions on contacts with the Western world and ideological pressure. How did this situation affect researchers on both sides? Was Central European Academia really isolated from western influences?

It is difficult to quantitatively determine to what degree these limitations affected archaeologists. The project team argues that citation data might allow (at least in part) for such a quantitative evaluation. Citations are like handy formal proxies for tracing lines of knowledge dissemination and academic influence, obviously not fully representative for these very complex processes, but well suited to quantify the ‘awareness’ of other peoples’ research.

The project will initially focus on the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic of Poland, former Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Citations have been extracted from publications of a synthetic nature (i.e. not field reports) and a citation network analysis has been performed on that data. Our preliminary results indicate that a lot of common presumptions regarding the research behind the Iron Curtain, like the dominance of Russian or national languages in Academic writing, are in fact false.

Cytoscape plugins

The authors of Cytoscape, a software platform for the analysis and visualisation of networks, have just published an overview of Cytoscape plugins in Nature Methods. Although many of these plugins might be most relevant for biological networks, there might be some original and useful Humanities applications to be developed as well. The overview covers 152 plugins, that should be plenty for the more creative among us to explore and play around with.

Cytoscape is open-source software for integration, visualization and analysis of biological networks. It can be extended through Cytoscape plugins, enabling a broad community of scientists to contribute useful features. This growth has occurred organically through the independent efforts of diverse authors, yielding a powerful but heterogeneous set of tools. We present a travel guide to the world of plugins, covering the 152 publicly available plugins for Cytoscape 2.5–2.8. We also describe ongoing efforts to distribute, organize and maintain the quality of the collection.

Multiplying Middle Ages

I would like to draw your attention to an interesting new conference entitled ‘MULTIPLYING MIDDLE AGES. New methods and approaches for the study of the multiplicity of the Middle Ages in a global perspective (3rd-16th CE)’. The conference is organised by Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Ekaterini Mitsiou and Mihailo Popovic. Their network analysis related work is particularly interesting and the conference programme includes quite a few network analysis papers.

Where? Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Wohllebengasse 12-14, 1040 Vienna
When? 8-9 November 2012

Have a look at the full programme!

Introducing ‘A Connected Island?’: how the Iron Curtain affected Archaeologists

Eötvös Loránd University (University of Budapest)
Eötvös Loránd University (University of Budapest)
After the Second World War the Iron Curtain sliced through the very centre of Europe forming a very real divide in both political and daily lives. In the second half of the 20th century the Soviet regime introduced a new structure to the academic institutions to countries like Poland, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia, including restrictions on contacts with the Western world and ideological pressure previously unknown in these parts of Europe. How did this situation affect researchers on both sides? Was Central European Academia really isolated from western influences? A new project funded by SotonDH aims to address this issue using Palaeolithic archaeology as a case study. In ‘A connected island? Evaluating influence and isolation of Central European Palaeolithic researchers during communism’ ACRG members Iza Romanowska and Tom Brughmans combine a traditional historiography with novel citation network analysis techniques to approach this issue from a new angle.

Isolated or not?

A heated debate has been taking place in Central European archaeology in the last two decades regarding the issue of isolation (or the lack thereof) from western influences during the second half of the 20th century. Difficulties related to obtaining the necessary passports and visas, the disparity in the values of currencies, and only limited formal international links between research institutions restricted research visits, data collection, literature review, and conference attendance. Equally hindering was the limited circulation of Western archaeological journals within the Soviet Bloc countries, and restricted accessibility to archaeological publications in general. This could have been further aggravated by language barriers and, to some extent, different disciplinary interests. All this does not necessarily mean that Central European researchers were completely unaware of what was happening in the West, as if living on an island unconnected to the rest of the world and immune to external influences.

It is difficult to quantitatively determine to what degree these limitations affected Central European researchers. The project team argues that citation data might allow (at least in part) for such a quantitative evaluation. When a researcher cites the work of another scholar they express in a very formalised way that they were influenced by this person. Citations are like handy proxies for tracing lines of knowledge dissemination and academic influence, obviously not fully representative for these very complex processes, but well suited to quantify the ‘awareness’ of other peoples research.

‘A connected island?’ will collect and explore citation data for Central European Stone Age studies, a relatively small but highly international research field that forms a well-defined case-study suitable for quantitative analysis. The project will initially focus on the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic of Poland, former Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The citation behaviour of scholars working in these countries will be confronted with that of Western European Palaeolithic researchers. The proposed project therefore aims to explore the degree of interaction and academic influence between Central and Western European researchers in Lower and Middle Palaeolithic archaeology during communism (1945-1989) through citation network analysis, in order to evaluate the hypothesis that Central European researchers worked in strong academic isolation.

Data collection in Hungary

Digital citation datasets are available online through services like Google Scholar or Web of Knowledge. However, neither of these is very comprehensive for books or local non-peer-reviewed journals where a lot of the Palaeolithic archaeology of Central Europe was published in. So despite of the revolution in digital data collection brought about by the World Wide Web, a critical analysis could not be performed without visiting key libraries and research institutions in Central Europe. So the ‘connected island’ team hit the road.

The first phase of data collection was conducted in May 2012. In this first round a visit was paid to the Institute of Archaeology at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Thanks to a bursary from SotonDH the team could perform the second phase of data collection at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Archaeological Science at the Eötvos Loránd University, both in Budapest. The third phase will aim to collect relevant literature from the Ústav pro pravěk a ranou dobu dějinnou at Charles University in Prague.

A few preliminary results

The widely held assumption that archaeological data from Central Europe was published in local languages is false. At least half, if not more, of Central European archaeology publications from this period were published in either German, French or English alongside the national language. The image that all countries under the influence of the former Soviet Union published in Russian is incorrect.

Just like their Western European or American colleagues Central European Palaeolithic researchers worked within a very strong ‘Bordean’ framework (named after a famous French researcher: Francois Bordes and his wife Denisse de Sonneville-Bordes).

From a cursory check, one gets an impression that Palaeolithic researchers in Central Europe were well informed of the developments on the other side of the Iron Curtain and quoted western authors extensively. The same can be said in reverse for their Western European colleagues who occasionally quote one or two Central European sites but did not seem to be aware of the full scope of the research happening in the region.

A second blog post on this project will follow soon featuring the first results of the citation network analysis, aimed at exploring this notion of unbalanced citation behaviour between the Eastern and Western researchers. Watch this space.

Iza Romanowska and Tom Brughmans

SMiLE: excellence with impact

Our SMiLE (Social Media for Live Events) project is on an advertising high! On 25 July a SMiLE article appeared on the Research Councils UK website, under the Digital Economy theme. In fact, SMiLE emerged from the Southampton Digital Economy University Strategic Research Group, a group co-directed by Dr. Lisa Harris, coordinator of the SMiLE project. This post also reveals a teaser image of my network analysis of the SMiLE data, more about that later 🙂

Virtually Downunder: Simulated Archaeology in Auckland

Iza just wrote a Day of Archaeology blog post about our work in Auckland. Check it out here. We are now virtually at the end of our research stay in New Zealand, was a great experience. More technical details on the project to follow but for now do ready Iza’s blog post:

When it rains in Auckland it really rains. It’s not this kinda British light drizzle that takes hours before your waterproofs decide not to be waterproof any more. It falls from the sky in bulk. And usually it lasts for about 45 seconds. Rain woke us up this morning in our flat in one of the oldest houses in Auckland, described by a friend of mine as ‘almost like the White House’. The ‘almost’ bit denotes one tenth of the size, one hundredth of the splendour and one thousandth of the recognizability. It is quite nice regardless, with a bar downstairs and a massive garden which is in fact the university campus, the Old Government House serves its purpose well – it hosts visiting researchers at the University of Auckland. Such as us.

Two archaeologists, one specializing in Human Origins the other in Roman studies, are not a common sight on the island colonized no earlier than AD 1250-1300 but this time the research project generously funded by a World Universities Network (@WUNSouthamptonU) grant was all about methods rather than specific time periods. In fact it was all about complexity.

[Click to enlarge]

Remember how when you were a kid you liked to take your toys apart and how difficult it was to put them back together without asking mummy for help? Complexity science is just about the same thing but instead of mummy we have computer simulations. The goal is to figure out how complex phenomena (like human behaviour to name the most obvious one) are created from simple interactions between simple agents (like the neurons in your brain). Funny it’s not called simplexity.

Our project has been designed to investigate the behaviour of hunter-gatherers in a highly unpredictable environment. We are particularly interested in their dependence on two different information sources: a culturally transmitted mental map/template of resource distribution (in this case the waterholes) and immediate environmental cues gathered from their surroundings. It was inspired by the Australian Aboriginal groups of non-coastal parts of Australia where human groups have developed a highly complex set of orally transmitted stories/myths (so-called dreamtime) which encode the location of waterholes and other resources.

Sounds like a proper piece of archaeological speculation but in fact it consists of endless programming hours, dropping into despair over the code reporting errors that no one knows how to solve and stretching our A-level maths acquired a decade ago and swiftly forgotten about a month later.

[Click to enlarge]

So here we are pretending that staring at the computer screen will make the yellow message ‘you can’t use step_by_step in an observer context, because it is a turtle/patch only’ disappear (if you know how to get rid of this error message, please DO get in touch). We use a humanities-students-friendly programming platform – NetLogo but what seems friendly to a computer scientist (and apparently 6 grade kids who are supposed to use it to learn their maths) can be pretty tricky to the history/languages/maybe-a-bit-of-geography archaeology graduate. Slowly, we’re moving on and the model is gaining momentum. A little green fella (he’s actually a group but it doesn’t matter) walks on an imaginary landscape of prehistoric Australia dotted with occasional waterholes. If he doesn’t make it to the next active one by the time he dehydrates he dies. He dies a lot. But to help him out we allowed him to remember where some of the waterholes encountered before are (that’s the glorified ‘mental template’). He still dies a lot but we’re working on it.

The project is being developed by 3 PhD students – two from the University of Southampton (@tombrughmans and I) and one from the University of Auckland and supervised by two University of Auckland professors. When the green fella finally manages to survive for a respectable period of time we will analyse which strategy was the most successful one, write it all up and present at a conference. No mud, no sweat but still archaeology.

– Iza Romanowska

@Iza_Romanowska

Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks ebook now out!

Leonardo (the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology) and MIT Press produced a new ebook that confirms the Arts and Humanities finally form a valuable part of the growing group of disciplines often associated with complex network research. The ebook edited by Maximilian Schich, Roger Malina and Isabel Meirelles is a collection of 26 short articles based on presentations at the Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks Leonardo Days at the NetSci conferences, the High Throughput Humanities conference, and most were previously published in Leonardo journal. The works by specialists in fields as diverse as archaeology, history, music, visualisation and language studies illustrate that the Arts and Humanities can make original contributions to complex network research and provide fascinating new perspectives in a wide range of disciplines. A nice online companion was launched together with the ebook.

The volume includes two contributions by researchers from The University of Southampton: the Google Ancient Places project is discussed by Leif Isaksen and colleagues, and the Urban Connectivity in Iron Age and Roman Southern Spain project was introduced by Simon Keay, Graeme Earl and myself. You can find a draft of that last article on my bibliography page.

You can order the ebook on Amazon.

Do check it out!

Here is the full table of contents:

Preface by Roger Malina
Introduction by Isabel Meirelles and Maximilian Schich

I Networks in Culture

Networks of Photos, Landmarks, and People
David Crandall and Noah Snavely

GAP: A NeoGeo Approach to Classical Resources
Leif Isaksen et al.

Complex Networks in Archaeology: Urban Connectivity in Iron Age and Roman Southern Spain
Tom Brughmans, Simon Keay, and Graeme Earl

II Networks in Art

Sustaining a Global Community: Art and Religion in the Network of Baroque Hispanic-American Paintings
Juan Luis Suárez, Fernando Sancho, and Javier de la Rosa

Artfacts.Net
Marek Claassen

When the Rich Don’t Get Richer: Equalizing Tendencies of Creative Networks
John Bell and Jon Ippolito

The Mnemosyne Atlas and The Meaning of Panel 79 in Aby Warburg’s Oeuvre as a Distributed Object
Sara Angel

Documenting Artistic Networks: Anna Oppermann’s Ensembles Are Complex Networks!
Martin Warnke and Carmen Wedemeyer

Net-Working with Maciunas
Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt

Network Science: A New Method for Investigating the Complexity of Musical Experiences in the Brain
Robin W. Wilkins et al.

Networks of Contemporary Popular Musicians
Juyong Park

III Networks in the Humanities

The Making of Sixty-Nine Days of Close Encounters at the Science Gallery
Wouter Van den Broeck et al.

Social, Sexual and Economic Networks of Prostitution
Petter Holme

06.213: Attacks with Knives and Sharp Instruments: Quantitative Coding and the Witness To Atrocity
Ben Miller

The Social Network of Dante’s Inferno
Amedeo Cappelli et al.

A World Map of Knowledge in the Making: Wikipedia’s Inter-Language Linkage as a Dependency Explorer of Global Knowledge Accumulation
Thomas Petzold et al.

Evolution of Romance Language in Written Communication: Network Analysis of Late Latin and Early Romance Corpora
Alexander Mehler et al.

Need to Categorize: A Comparative Look at the Categories Of Universal Decimal Classification System and Wikipedia
Almila Akdag Salah et al.

The Development of the Journal Environment of Leonardo
Alkim Almila Akdag Salah and Loet Leydesdorff

IV Art about Networks

Tell Them Anything but the Truth: They Will Find Their Own. How We Visualized the Map of the Future with Respect to the Audience of Our Story
Michele Graffieti et al.

Model Ideas: From Stem Cell Simulation to Floating Art Work
Jane Prophet

Culture, Data and Algorithmic Organization
George Legrady

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0
Anna Dumitriu

Narcotic of the Narrative
Ward Shelley

V Research in Network Visualization

Building Network Visualization Tools to Facilitate Metacognition Incomplex Analysis
Barbara Mirel

Pursuing the Work of Jacques Bertin
Nathalie Henry Riche

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑