Historical Networks

November 19th, 2010 |

Wow I meant to do this earlier.  Sorry for the late post, but I thought I should introduce myself before I got on the plane.

I am doctoral candidate in History at the University of Virginia.  I also design databases and write visualization tools for humanities scholars.

I would love to have a discussion about historical networks.  These days there is a great deal of interest in tracing historical networks of communication, kinship, patronage, etc.  Digital tools seem ideal for some of this work (I am building an open source software package, Project Quincy, to do just that).  But as I design databases to trace networks, I wonder more and more about how the technology we use shapes our subsequent analysis.  When I map a network from the Project Quincy, am I mapping a real network that once existed, or am I simply mapping the data structure I put in place?

A conversation about networks could be far ranging (and include modern, social networking packages which I see several other THATCampers are interested in).  It also brings in questions of source gathering, digitization, data structure, interface design, and visualization.

See you tomorrow!

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5 Responses to “Historical Networks”

  1. Quinn Says:

    Count me in! It’s had to take a back seat recently, but I’m working on something of the historical network variety with the Old Novgorod birchbark letters.

  2. Kim Lacey Says:

    I’m in, too! I’ve been spending a lot of time lately researching networked memory and I’d love to talk to more people about their research in networks. Have you read the recent NYT article about dig hum? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/arts/17digital.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2 See you tomorrow!

  3. Jean Says:

    Great! We should definitely talk. I haven’t read the NYTimes article yet but plan to tonight. @Quinn we met (I think) at the Princeton Bamboo Phase 1 workshop. I was the curly haired grad student who volunteered to take notes.

  4. Quinn Says:

    Of course, I do remember now! I’m still working with that data. :) Great to see you again!

  5. Dave Says:

    @jabauer, If you follow Tom Brughmans, all networks are a product of the analysis–there is no 1:1 correspondence with data and the relationships that produced it. Brughmans is an archaeologist and comes out of the critical and skeptical milieu of his field over the last 50 years. I am working on trying to establish a framework for analyzing prehistoric networks surrounding ancient metal production and trade from the ground up, so that it can be augmented and interrogated from many angles as research progresses.