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Historical Network Analysis | DataNinjas Posts

Identifying individuals through network visualizations

Today your reporter will deliver this post live from her new temporary habitat: the laundromat. I was hoping it would never come to this, but the landlord still hasn’t installed pipes for the washing machine. I’ve been postponing this ordeal for over a month now, and my laundry basket simply can’t handle the steady heaps of clothing being catapulted its way anymore. So I stuffed everything into my backpack, trolley, Ikea bag, any big container I own basically, and dragged myself to the nearest facility, with the very deceitful name ‘Happy Wash’. Yet there is absolutely nothing spirit-lifting about sitting in a fluorescently-lit corridor lined with machines shaking and snorting as if they’re about to take off. The owners are obviously of the hippy-dippy retro sort: there’s no Wi-Fi. One might argue that the absence of all technological diversions can be seen as a blessing, as it allows me to fully unleash my literary genius and focus on the task at hand: providing you, dear reader, with entertaining and educational refreshments. But somehow I find that being surrounded by glass doors offering a window into other people’s tighty whities being swirled around oddly discomforting and distracting (though luckily not satisfying). Today’s special is geared toward the prosopographically-minded. As we’ve been repeating for years now, you can’t do social network analysis if you don’t have a decent prosopography. It’s become kind of a mantra. You need to get your data sorted out. Now, while working on Trismegistos is awesome, it does…

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The Journal of Historical Network Research

To start this post properly, please picture the opening scene of The Lion King in your head. Not just the video; the audio as well, please. Actually, the audio in itself is enough. It starts with an enthralling ‘AAAAAAAA!’, making your tummy feel all funny and getting you to bounce on the edge of the couch in hyper-drive over-eager anticipation because the movie’s starting!! Ok, now pause your inner iPod at that nanosecond right before the song starts. We realize it’s been ages since we’ve posted anything even remotely interesting or useful. I could start making excuses, but frankly, my dear, do you give a damn? No, of course not. You just wanted educationally entertaining literature, and we failed to deliver. So I’m going to make up for that with a fantastic opening. Hence the Lion King soundtrack. This post is also about the birth of something legendary, so the theme is actually quite appropriate. Ok, ready? Hit play! WE FINALLY HAVE OUR OWN JOURNAL!!! Before you start leaving congratulatory comments, let me be clear: by ‘we’, I don’t mean Silke and I. I use this pronoun in a majestically plural sense to denote the entire community of historians who have devoted their precious lives to the dangerous en generally unsurpassed attempts to spread the spaghettilicious word among our peers, overlords, frenemies and loved ones. Those days filled with agony deciding which journal to submit to are finally over. We are masters of our own fate now. To celebrate Earth’s 5010th anniversary*, the Journal…

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Spanking new Historical Data Ninjas website

Dear Fellow Network Enthusiasts and Historians, as you may have noticed, we are finally starting to use some of our newly acquired digital skills to improve this little blog baby of ours. We are sad to say goodbye to our spaghetti-os domain. We will never forget what it did and we would like for us all to hold a moment of silence, please, for the one who never really got the chance. They show up to the party, but they’re never asked to dance. The losers, the liars, the bastards…  Ahum… But not to worry! Apart from adding some bling and the new domain name (historicaldataninjas for those who hadn’t noticed yet! – yes you! ..cheeky inattentive little buggers), our content will stay absolutely the same: Harry Potter networks, stupid memes, random – and often rude – comments, academic gossip, even occasional historical info(!) and SNA help, research and suggestions will still be the supreme masters of this blog. We are still very much working on the new design, so we want to apologise in advance for any technical failures. If you come across any problem, please do contact us via the comment section below or via Twitter (@DataNinjasKUL) and we’ll try to get it fixed asap. Cheers! Silke

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You just can’t not love us

Dear fettucine followers, It’s been far too long, I know, I know… But if you want to keep getting updates on your favorite noodle chefs, they have to get money from somewhere first. Mine is running out, and here in Belgium, the first quarter of the year is generally ‘grant application season’, so I’ve been writing what could add up to a book on project outlines, research summaries and cost simulations. We’ve been really busy over the last couple of months though, trying out new features in Gephi and all, so you’ll here from us soon, promised! In the meantime, one of our very first arty-farty spaghetti monsters has been chosen to adorn the brand-new KU Leuven research homepage! Someone at the KU Leuven Marketing Office has finally seen the light, hallelujah! Yanne

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‘This little piggy went to market’

Another short note on hogs and whores in the eastern desert praesidia: Philokles’ pigs Time to end the year with a bang! A couple of weeks ago, I drew your attention to Philokles, merchant of quality vegetables and first rate whores. Here’s a little follow-up on that story today: Philokles’ pigs. As you may have read, and no doubt by now have already forgotten, most of the letters belonging to the Philokles dossier (to use a fancy French word, because we Belgians are, constitutionally, a trilingual country) deal with Schmaus (it would be rude to ignore our German-tongued compatriots now). Cabbages were something they couldn’t get enough of in the eastern desert, but appels, onions, asparagus, salt, pig meat and rabbit dung were also gladly provided. The fruit and vegetables were grown locally, probably in Phoinikon or Persou, where there was enough irrigation for this purpose. Raising pigs in the desert was trickier though: the climate is much too warm and dry, and it would require a LOT of water. Some remains of a pigsty have been found, indicating that a limited number was brought to the camps, probably for ritual purposes. In general though, cured meat was imported from the Nile valley (yup, beef jerky goes that far back). Boar of the piglets So when the unpublished potsherd K193 (yes, we use code for our texts in papyrology to mislead the enemy) mentions a ‘boar of the piglets’, papyrological eyebrows are raised, and as professor Cuvigny remarks: this passage is…

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Harlots of the desert

Philokles: introduction Today we have the pleasure to present you: Philokles! Philokles lived on the outskirts of Egyptian society, in the dull eastern desert between the Nile valley and the Red Sea that was dotted with Roman army camps (praesidia). These camps were situated along the desert tracks from Koptos to Myos Hormos (not far from Urghada) and to Berenike in the south. The camps had to protect the caravans and were manned with a handful of soldiers, who often stayed in the desert for months, bored to death, and sometimes threatened by Bedouins. Philokles wasn’t a soldier himself, so why on earth would you want to spend your days there?! Life is short, and was even shorter still 2,000 years ago. But our dear Philokles could smell opportunities hundreds of sandy miles away. For he was a businessman, and if business takes you east, you suit up, strap yourself on that donkey or camel and go with the flow, he said (ok, maybe he didn’t…). He wasn’t one of those Big Shot dealers who hauled in pepper and other spices from India or shipped out fine wines from Syria and even Italy to the Far East though. No, Philokles found his niche in a more modest market: basic food, such as wheat and wine, was provided by the army, but luxuries such as meat and vegetables had to be bought by the soldiers themselves. Upon hearing this, the drachme signs no doubt started flickering in Philokles’ eyes. Philokles is known…

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Open CFP: Digital Approaches and the Ancient World

More publicity! *Digital Approaches and the Ancient World* A themed issue of the _Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies_ Editors: Gabriel Bodard (University of London) gabriel dot bodard at sas.ac.uk Yanne Broux (KU Leuven) yanne dot broux at arts.kuleuven.be Ségolène Tarte (University of Oxford) segolene dot tarte at oerc.ox.ac.uk Call for papers: We invite colleagues all around the world and at all stages of their careers to submit papers on the topic of “Digital Approaches and the Ancient World” to a themed issue of the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. The topic is to be construed as widely as possible, to include not only the history, archaeology, language, literature and thought of the ancient and late antique Mediterranean world, but also of antiquity more widely, potentially including, for example, South and East Asian, Sub-Saharan African or Pre-Columbian American history. Digital approaches may also vary widely, to include methodologies from the digital humanities and information studies, quantitative methods from the hard sciences, or other innovative and transdisciplinary themes. Papers will be fully peer reviewed and selected for inclusion based not only on their research quality and significance, but especially on their ability to engage profoundly both with classics/history academic readers, and scholars from digital or informatic disciplines. We are keen to see papers that clearly lay out their disciplinary and interdisciplinary methodological approaches, and present and interpret the full range of scholarly and practical outcomes of their research. We encourage the use of and direct reference to open…

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Spaghetti Monsters al Dente

Cowabunga! Your beloved Dataninjas strike again! A couple of weeks back, we were invited to give people a hands on experience of how to make their own squirmy, noodly contraptions in Gephi at the ‘Papyri and Social Networks’ conference in Leiden. We definitely won over a soul or two for our cause, and for those who were still struggling to see the light, we promised to provide our presentations so they could let it sink in a little more. And so today we would like to share the joys and sorrows that come with network building in Gephi with the rest of the world. You can download the files here: general introduction gathering and structuring data Gephi tutorial 1 Gephi tutorial 2 No doubt many of you, in a fit of insanity, have accidentally deleted the sample files we provided to work with during the workshop. Since ninjas are badass, but not bad, we’ve decided to let this one pass with a slight contemptuous smirk, and add them here as well: so here’s the nodelist and the edgelist (right click to download these, otherwise they’ll just open up in a separate window). Now knock yourself out! Yanne & Silke

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Gephi timeline: the pimped out version

Random introduction (no Gephi timeline) Ok, finally got over mourning Dumbledore a little, and I have to confess: the new James Bond trailer helped BIG TIME. I’ve gotmixed feelings about this one though. Well, just one major bummed feeling, actually. Because this is probably Daniel Craig’s last Bond movie. But! But, but, butt! Booty. Ass. Derrière. Cheeks. Fart. Eine feuchter Furz. There. Now I can finally use that expression. So, back to Bond (I bet his farts smell like expensive cologne. Not sure if that’s a good thing though). If you think about it, this is going to be THE ultimate movie. Now, I don’t know if many people who saw the last one really grasped what was going on there. Everyone was so focused on Silva and how in the end Bond fails and M gets killed anyway (oops, perhaps I should have added a ‘spoiler alert’ at the beginning again…), that they missed the developments that really matter. But, as is so often the case, Silva was actually just another straw puppet, a minuscule link in a master plan genially devised by no other than our very worst enemy and nightmare: VOLDEMORT. You fools! He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was not killed by Harry Potter! ‘But he burst into little bits of charred paper at the end of the last movie’. Balderdash! Voldemort isn’t stupid! With all his Horcruxes destroyed and a jittery Elder Wand, he knew it would be reckless to face Harry again. So he did a neat disapparating trick…

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Gephi Timeline Basics

*SPOILER ALERT* Don’t read this if you haven’t read Harry Potter yet! But in that case: shame on you! My dearest Kartoffelköpfchens, These last months, this jetsetter has been travelling the world, spreading the word of our spaghettilicous Overlord, from Paris to Padua to Florence (Ok, I admit, that’s not really impressive on a global scale… But you can’t blame me for all those trips to Italy: it’s pasta heaven over here!). But with summer almost over, I think it’s time to remind you beach bums and party addicts that there’s more to life than tans, summer flings and alcohol. Networks in particular, of course, cuz that’s what we’re here for. A while back, a waaaay big whale of a while back (I saw a whale once. On a boat trip off the coast of Boston. Was sick to the bones. Two weeks ago I saw a dolphin. On a boat trip off the coast of Ireland. Was sick to the bones. Coincidence? Yeah, why not), I told you I was playing around with Gephi’s timeline feature. We’ll, today I’m gonna show you how that works, because it’s an indispensible feature for any historian who’s into serious network analysis.   Gephi Timeline Basics To activate Gephi’s timeline, you need a nodelist and an edgelist, just like for a static network (if you’re not sure how that works anymore, check out this post on the basics of Gephi). All you need to do actually, is add a time interval to both.…

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