Réseaux et Histoire: because it will do you good to network in Foreign

September 18, 2015

executive-511706_640It’s necessary to frequently remind ourselves that Academia does not just happen in English. It sounds like a silly thing to write, but having worked in the UK for a while I know it is rare to attend events that are not in English and it is common to ignore scientific communities and publications in other languages. This attitude is certainly encouraged by the Institute of Scientific Information (creators of our beloved Impact Factor) who rarely incorporate non-English language publications in their index. This is an assumption supported by some generalizing statistics: the majority of scientific publications are in English, the vast majority of citations are to publications written in English.

There is nothing wrong with one language emerging as the dominant one to facilitate academic communication. But this trend is inevitably accompanied by other language communities producing, debating, and evaluating work in English and their own language. This is necessary and facilitates non-English speakers to evaluate and contribute to international debates. Such communities enable those who are engaged in both international and national debates to cross-fertilize academic communities. Most importantly however, these will be the communities that take care of one of our most crucial duties as academics: to communicate our findings in a critical and understandable way to the general public, regardless of their language.

All of this is of course beside the point :) I want to encourage everyone to attend the third French-speaking historical network science community conference. It’s a great and active community, with some genuinely nice and interesting people. This will not be a disappointment. I have engaged with this community before and came out with fresh ideas and approaches I could not have possibly gained within my English-speaking cocoon.

When? 29-31 October

Where? Paris

Information? Website

The third conference of the French-speaking group Res-Hist (réseaux et histoire – historical network analysis) will take place in Paris on the 29-31 October. The format mostly offers discussions of work in progress by historians, as well as presentations by specialists of other disciplines (geography, geomatics, sociology, law, anthropology,  computer science) who have dealt with social networks in time, or social networks reconstructed from written sources. All those among you who understand French are welcome! Extended abstracts are put online when we  receive them: feel free to comment on our website http://reshist.hypotheses.org, that also gives details on the conference program.

Book: support networks for persecuted Jews in WWII

July 22, 2015

9783110368949I find support and assistance networks extremely interesting! Mainly because they pose so many interesting missing data problems, and as an archaeologist I like a good data problem from time to time. These kinds of networks are very much based on trust, since once a person or connection is compromised it will have disastrous, often murderous, consequences for many in the network. This topic is explored for the case of persecuted Jews in National Socialism during World War II in Marten Düring’s work. He traced a number of different groups of people, how they got in touch with each other, and how they provided assistance to persecuted Jews. Marten told me in most cases the support networks grow slowly and are built on strong trusted relationships. Often new individuals will be introduced to the network through a common contact who has received assistance before and vouches for the individual. However, there are a few cases when individuals gambled and got in touch without a pre-existing well-trusted connection. Such decisions could be disastrous, sometimes leading to the entire network being rounded up by the Gestapo, questioned and sentenced (which is often why these support networks are documented and why Marten was able to reconstruct them). The ‘data problems’ I mentioned are a consequence of the sheer secretive nature of the support network: hiding the fact you offered support to persecuted Jews was a question of life or death. It is particularly hard to reconstruct support networks that were not caught by the Gestapo, and one can only assume that those that were caught are not entirely documented, that there are a lot of missing nodes and links. Marten Düring offers us an in-depth look at a few cases which are particularly well-known, thanks to his rummaging around in archives for years.

I believe this study will prove invaluable for better understanding support networks and the missing data problems they pose. I see particular similarities with networks of the trade in licit antiquities, organized crime and really any type of so-called ‘dark network’. This work offers a reminder of how the study of the past can help us tackle challenges in the present.

Marten’s work was recently published by De Gruyter as a book, check it out here and find the abstract below.

Also keep an eye out for Marten’s chapter in the forthcoming ‘The Connected Past’ edited volume to be published by Oxford University Press early in 2016 :)

Why did people help Jews hide from the Nazis? This study examines interactions between helpers and aid recipients using the methods of social network research. Based on six Berlin case studies, the author looks at the social determinants for willingness to help, trust formation, network effects, and the daily practice of providing help from the perspectives of helpers and aid recipients.

Historical Network Research vol. 3 in Lisbon

June 25, 2015

hnr2It’s been three years since the first edition of the international Historical Network Research conference, in Hamburg. The success of the first edition sparked an awesome second edition in Ghent, set in an amazing restored abbey complex. Now it’s time for episode III in Lisbon. The call for papers is open, please note the submission deadline of 30 June, details below. The Historical Network Research community is going strong and growing, along these conferences they promised to keep on organizing the smaller workshops they’ve been hosting in Germany for years now, so keep an eye out for that. I can definitely recommend attending the conference, I found the Ghent edition I attended a great experience.

CFP deadline: June 30 2015


Call for papers

The Historical Network Research is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual conference. Having been held in Hamburg in 2013 and Ghent in 2014, this year it will be held in Lisbon, on 15-18 September 2015.
This will be an opportunity to present historical research embedded in the field of social network analysis, as well as a chance to benefit from workshops designed to acquire analytic and visual tools.
Naturally, the Conference will be open not only to arts and humanities researchers, but also to social, formal, applied and natural scientists, who are interested in historical research and processes.
We welcome proposals for individual papers discussing any historical period and geographical area. Some of the topics include but are not limited to: Economic and business history; Scientific networks and collaborations; Technological and research networks; Social movements and political mobilization; Social network theory and historical research; Policy networks; Social network analysis, war and conflict; Kinship and community; Social networks and health; The geographical scope of networks; Cultural and intellectual networks; Methodological explorations


Papers for presentation will be selected, after peer review, on the basis of abstracts (up to 500 words). To apply please also include the title, 3 keywords, institutional affiliation, contact details and a brief CV or bio.
Each presentation will last no more than 15 minutes. The default language is English.

Announcing the complex systems simulation CAA special interest group

May 12, 2015

complexityThe last CAA meeting in Siena saw the creation of a new special interest group in complex systems simulation. This new group will be of interest to network fans as well. The chairs Iza Romanowska, Florencia del Castillo and Juan Antonio Barceló have plans to organise sessions, workshops and networking events around the CAA conferences and independently. They will use the Simulatingcomplexity blog as well as their mailing list to keep you informed on their activities and to offer help to those who wish to apply complex systems simulation techniques to their work. Subscribe!

Want to know what it’s all about? A word from the chairs:

The staggering complexity of past societies is well recognised in archaeology. Human groups often built intricate social systems, which consist of numerous individual elements interacting with each other and with the environment and producing phenomena that are not easy to anticipate or understand using non-quantitative methods. The standard scientific answer to the challenges of investigating such systems is the large family of simulation techniques and the theoretical paradigm known as Complexity Science. In the last few years these approaches (agent-based and equation-based modelling, systems dynamics, cellular automata, network analysis etc.), have become increasingly popular among the practitioners of archaeological computing, suggesting that the time is right to bring this growing community together.

Therefore, the aim of the new Special Interest Group in Complex Systems Simulation is to provide a strong communication platform for present and future researchers working in the complex systems simulation domain. In particular, we will strive to:

  • provide continuity to the sessions and workshops concerned with computational modelling at the annual CAA conference and beyond,
  • organise, coordinate and inform the members of other events related to complexity science and simulation,
  • organise events aimed at training future complex systems modellers and the general archaeological audience,
  • define and promote good practices in archaeological computational modelling,
  • and, in the long term, we hope to bring simulation and other complexity science methods into mainstream archaeological practice.

To join the SIG simply sign up to the mailing list and join us at the sessions and workshops dedicated to simulation and complexity science at CAA 2016 in Oslo!

— posted on behalf of SIG leaders Florencia del Castillo, Iza Romanowska and Juan Antonio Barceló

Tom’s selection from the SAA program

April 15, 2015

SAAA beautiful day in sunny San Francisco, and the lobby of the Hilton hotel is packed with thousands of archaeologists. Can you think of anything more unusual? This must be the SAAs: the annual meeting of American archaeologists. The biggest archaeology conference in the world as far as I know, with a bible-sized program book.  Do you find it difficult to navigate your way through the three days of millions of parallel sessions? Don’t worry, just follow my selection of sessions and you’ll be guaranteed to see the best SAA has to offer (read: everything even vaguely related to networks and computers with a hint of archaeology, and some gender studies too).

Thursday April 16:

5: Forum: diverse digital archaeologies – A CAA-NA and DDIG event (8AM)
48: General session: contributions to modelling in Archaeology (10:30AM)
71: Forum: Gender disparities in research grant submissions (1PM)
73: Symposium: SimulPast – Simulating the past to understand human behaviour (1PM)
84: Symposium: simulating social complexity to understand the archaeological past (1PM) I’m in this one! Shawn Graham and I will present on modelling the Roman economy –> fascinating!
103: General session: GIS, remote sensing, and archaeological mapping studies (2:30PM)

Friday April 17:

200: Symposium: macroscopic approaches to archaeological histories: insights into archaeological practice from digital methods (10:30AM) I am in this session as well! Will be talking about citation networks.
221: Electric symposium: open methods in archaeology: how to encourage reproducible research as the default practice (1PM)
Lightning talks on Digital Archaeology (8PM)

Saturday April 18:

289: Mind the gap: archaeological approaches to null data spaces (8AM)

Pelagios colloquium “Linked Pasts”

April 7, 2015

pelagiosThe Pelagios project has been providing the Humanities with linked data goodness for a few years now. This year the project will host a two-day colloquium that will be of interest to those reading this blog. More details below.

When? 20-21 July 2015

Where? King’s College London

Dear all,
The Pelagios project is pleased to announce a two-day colloquium on the subject of “Linked Pasts”. Bringing together leading exponents of Linked Data from across the Humanities and Cultural Heritage sector, we address some of the challenges to developing a digital ecosystem of online open materials, through two days of position papers, discussion and breakout group activity. Day 1 will tackle the themes of Time, Geo and People, and issues of Open Data, Classification Schemes and Infrastructure. Day 2 will be devoted to two parallel structured activities, one exploring Niches (space, time, people), and the other Nutrition Cycles (open data, classification, infrastructure). For details of the line up of talks and contributors, see below.
Venue and date: The Great Hall, KCL (Strand Campus), 20-21 July 2015
Refreshments (tea/coffee, lunch) will be provided, along with a reception on Monday evening. The event is free of charge but places are limited. To reserve your place, go to: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/pelagios-linked-pasts-tickets-16278937741.
Day 1
   Welcome – Pelagios: A Linked Pasts Ecosystem?
   Keynote – Sebastian Heath (NYU), TBA
Session 1
   Time – Ryan Shaw (UNC), An Ecosystem of Time Periods: PeriodO (http://perio.do/)
   Geo – Ruth Mostern (UC Merced), An Ecosystem of Places: Gazetteers
   People – Gabriel Bodard (KCL), An Ecosystem of People: SNAP (http://snapdrgn.net/)
Session 2
   Open Data – Mia Ridge (OU), Trends and Practice within Cultural Heritage
   Classification schemes – Antoine Isaac (Amsterdam), Europeana (http://www.europeana.eu/portal/)
Day 2
Session 3: Towards an Infrastructure
   Rainer Simon (AIT): The Recogito Annotation Platform (http://pelagios.org/recogito/)
   Humphrey Southall (Portsmouth): PastPlace gazetteer (http://pastplace.org/)
   Guenther Goerz (Erlangen): WissKI (http://wiss-ki.eu/)
   Holly Wright/Doug Tudhope: Ariadne (http://www.ariadneproject.org/)
Session 4
   Structured Activity 1: Niches (Space, Time, People)
   Structured Activity 2: Nutrition Cycles (Open Data, Classification, Infrastructure)
Wrap up: feedback, next steps + community actions

Spaghetti monster interview

April 4, 2015

LED_Flying_Spaghetti_MonsterThe awesome team at the ‘Six degrees of spaghetti monsters’ blog have recently published an interview with myself. You’ll notice from the questions that it’s not your average interview, for a start there is way too much talk about networks for it to be average. But the questions also ranged from Harry Potter to centrality measures, and the blog’s editors’ replies touched on James Bond, Hitler and Caribbean beer. So if you wanna know some stuff about me that you actually don’t wanna know, read the interview here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,436 other followers