Prosopographies and social networks workshop

March 28, 2014

prosopProsopographies are great sources for building past social networks. Those interested in or working with large datasets of past individuals might be interested in the Prosop workshop. More information below. or on prosop.org

Prosop: a social networking tool for the past

Call for participants

Second database development workshop

Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) on May 9, 2014.

Historians and other scholars with large databases of historical person data are invited to a workshop to test and populate Prosop, a project funded by the Office of Digital Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

What is Prosop?

Prosop is a collaborative semantic web database of details about individuals in the past. Although it maps networks and discovers connections, it is not just facebook for dead people. In particular, it aims to:

  • manage diverse types of data from different historical settings,
  • aggregate of large quantities of person data,
  • accommodate uncertain and conflicting information, and
  • facilitate data-driven study of historical systems of description and classification.
  • For more detailed information, visit our website at prosop.org

What kinds of data do we seek?

We’re looking for information about relatively large sets of relatively ordinary people from the past. Typically, this information is extracted from archival records used by microhistorians. For example, the database contains the name, age, address, and physical description of 700 criminal court defendants from 1880s Egypt. Prosop is meant to work for all kinds of historical person data, and we are especially interested in data in unusual formats (linguistic, topical, or otherwise) that will help us to develop the flexibility of the system. Also, we are looking for participants who are willing to share their data with the community of researchers using Prosop.

Applying with a counterpart

For this workshop, we are especially interested in applications from pairs of researchers who have similar datasets and would like to test them for possible overlap. Prosop may help them to discover common individuals and explore community characteristics.

What will happen at the workshops?

Before the workshop, each participant will submit a tranche of names, which will be imported into Prosop. Participants will describing the characteristics of their data and the ways it might interact with other person data. Those working in pairs will consider any overlap that Prosop found, as well as commonalities that it fails to discover. Participants will discuss issues of categorization and comparison that arise. We will work to find ways to link data and to make the system more usable. The workshop will provide a chance for historians and developers to communicate.

What’s in it for participants?

Workshop participants will contribute to the design of a tool that will enable new research into global social history, and will have early access to its results. They should gain new perspectives on their own data and its place in the global history of person information. Those working in pairs may discover fruitful overlap between their data sets. Participants’ experience and input will help to refine the system towards its aim, which is to encompass all categories of historical person data. Participant costs will be covered by the organizers, though some cost sharing may be asked of those applying from abroad.

How to apply?

Apply via the form available here. You will be asked to attach a CV and a letter of application, which should include a general description of the data which you wish to contribute to the project. Where possible, please specify:

  • the number of persons in the database
  • the categories of information recorded about each person (e.g. name, age, birthplace, occupation)
  • the geographical and chronological range of the persons represented
  • the type of sources from which the information is drawn (language, archives, genres).

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications for the second workshop is April 7, 2014.

Are there other ways to participate?

Prosop is an ongoing project. In addition to possible future workshops, we are looking for beta testers. If you are not able to join this workshop, but might want to be involved in the future, please get in touch via our website and join our mailing list.


CFP European Conference on Social Networks

February 19, 2014

uabEurope now has its own social networks conference! It emerged out of the annual ASNA and UKSNA conferences. My new employer, the Algorithmics group of the University of Konstanz, is also one of the partners of this new initiative. What’s more, my new boss Prof. Ulrik Brandes will give a keynote talk at the meeting. All of this makes me very confident that archaeological papers will be more than welcome at the event, so go ahead and submit! More information below or on the conference website.

The 1st European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN, eusn@eusn.org) will be held at the Faculty of Arts, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) on July 1-4, 2014.
This European conference replaces the annual ASNA and UKSNA conference in 2014, having received a regional conference endorsement by INSNA.
In this occasion the EUSN will pay special attention to Latin American researchers on social networks in order to foster the creation of a regional conference also in Latin America.
The EUSN is organized by the research group egolab-GRAFO (Social and Cultural Anthropology Department), with the support of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, the Algorithmics Group from the University of Konstanz, the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS), the Department of Educational and Cultural Sociology from the University of Cologne, and the Laboratory of Personal Networks and Communities (LRPC), University of Sevilla. Other Departments and Institutes from the UAB that support the Conference are the Centre for Sociological Studies of Daily Life and Work (QUIT-IEE) of the Department of Sociology, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), among others.

All the conference information and more can be found at: http://jornades.uab.cat/eusn/content/welcome-1st-european-conference-social-networks-eusn
If you have any questions regarding the scientific program (submission procedure etc), please do not hesitate to contact pc@eusn.org.


The Future of Historical Network Research

June 24, 2013

histnetI am delighted to spread the word about a great upcoming conference: The Future of Historical Network Research. It is organised by the Historical network analysis team that have been holding regular workshops in Germany for a few years now. This is their first conference and I was told to expect an awesome keynote! The event will take place at the University of Hamburg on 13-15 September 2013. There are even a limited number of bursaries available.

Deadline of the CFP is 25 July 2013.

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

Call for Papers

The concepts and methods of social network analysis in historical research are no longer merely used as metaphors but are increasingly applied in practice. In the last decades several studies proved that formal methods derived from social network analysis can be fruitfully applied to selected bodies of historical data as well. This relational perspective on historical sources has helped historical research to gain an entirely new methodological vantage point. Historical Network Research today is a research method as well as an online and offline training framework and quickly growing research community.

We are grateful for generous support from:

NeDiMAH – Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities

ESF – European Science Foundation

CGG – Centrum for Globalisation and Governance at the University of Hamburg

When we began to apply network analysis to history, there were no suitable points of reference and hardly any previous work which successfully combined Social Network Analysis methods and source-criticism. Over the years we have developed an infrastructure for historians to engage in research on networks, to exchange ideas and to receive training.
After eight workshops on Historical Network Research at locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland it is time to look back at what has been achieved in the last years and to explore what might be next. For this first conference we therefore invite papers which integrate social network analysis methods and theories with historical research interests. Topics can cover any historical epoch and may include but are not limited to research on the topics below. Contributions from scholars in Computer Science, the Digital Humanities and related disciplines are welcome.

Collective action
Trade networks
Credit networks
Covert networks
Spatial networks
Dynamic networks
Kinship networks
Tools for the extraction of relational data from text
Network extraction from metadata
Semantic networks
Tools for data visualisation and management
Communication networks
Transnational networks

The papers will be organized as parts of the following four panels:

Section I: “Information Visualisation”
Section II: “Space and Time”
Section III: “Linked Data and Ontological Methods”
Section IV: Overlaps between Network Analysis and the Digital Humanities

The conference will include keynotes by scholars in history, computational linguistics, semantic networks and data visualisation who will discuss their vision for the future of computer-assisted historical research.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted via this registration form by 25 July 2013. Notifications of paper acceptance will be sent out by 5 August.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at conference@historicalnetworkresearch.org for additional information.

Linda von Keyserlingk, Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr
Florian Kerschbaumer, University of Klagenfurt
Martin Stark, University of Hamburg
Ulrich Eumann, NS Dokumentationszentrum Köln
Marten Düring, Radboud University Nijmegen


Applications of Social Network Analysis (ASNA)

June 21, 2013

asnaThe Applications of Social Network Analysis conference might be of interest to some. Held in Zurich, 27-30 August 2013. The event combines paper sessions with hands-on practical workshops including SNA (advanced and newbie), Siena, Visone, ERGM in R, and Discourse. The workshop on Visone will be led by Ulrik Brandes ad Uwe Nagel, the University of Konstanz team you might know from the Caribbean Archaeology project Nexus 1492.

More info can be found on the ASNA website.


SNA Summer School Trier

June 12, 2013

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)


Étudier les réseaux sociaux, SNA summer school in France

October 15, 2012

When I tell people that I specialise in archaeological computing they always think I am locked up in a cellar with a massive computer screen doing things other people don’t understand. They do not associate us with doing fieldwork in a sunny place, or digging up treasures. To some extent this is true: I am generally confronted with blank stares when I try to explain my research and I do get to sit in a warm and dry office whilst others excavate ridges and furrows in a muddy trench.

Sometimes being an academic is not such a bad thing. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited by a French historian to attend and present at a summer school. The week-long event took place on the French island of Proquerolles off the coast of Toulon and St Tropez, a little known gem of the French Riviera. When I did my background research before accepting the invitation I focused on weather forecasts and restaurant reviews. I decided it was in the best interest of my research group that I accept the invitation and attend this undoubtedly very interesting event.

A useful fact about Porquerolles is that it lies in France, where people speak French. The last time I practiced my French was quite a while ago and everyone I met after getting off the plane was keen to point that out to me. On the boat trip to the island I found out that in fact I was one of the only foreigners and one of only two archaeologists, all other 78 delegates were mainly sociologists, a few historians and some geographers. All of a sudden I very briefly wished I could spend the week in a cellar in front of a massive computer screen.

It turns out that the average French sociologist makes for extremely enjoyable and interesting company, although there are some distinct differences with the average archaeologist: they talk about sociology a lot and they drink less. The summer school (‘Etudier les réseaux sociaux’) was organised by the French social network analysts Claire Bidart and Michel Grosetti, and the historical network analysts Claire Lemercier and Michel Bertrand. The programme included some great scholars in social network analysis like Alain Degenne, Pierre Mercklé and Emmanuel Lazega. The topics of the presentations ranged from ‘Network Analysis for Dummies’, over the issues surrounding the use of historical data in network analyses, to networks of organisations, citations, finance and the World Wide Web. The work by Florent Hautefeuille on linking networks of individuals known from Medieval written sources with the excavated houses in which they lived was particularly interesting for archaeologists. One of the biggest strengths of the summer school were the many tutorials that introduced an impressive range of social network analysis software: Pajek, PNet, ERGM, NodeXL, Visone, Calliope, SIENA, UCINET, Netdraw, Gephi, as well as some more obscure programmes designed by individuals sitting in front of massive screens in cellars.

During a conference or summer school it is always hard to convince yourself that you are actually there for work and should stay focused during every second of all presentation. But at this summer school I came very close to paying attention almost non-stop to all the amazing new network techniques, software and their creative applications to fascinating datasets. I believe I should conclude by stating that I have seen the value of sharing knowledge across disciplines in action, especially if it takes place on a beautiful French island in the Mediterranean.


Facebook wins: where do other social networks fit in?

August 7, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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