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Category: Digital Humanities

2017: a balance

Before we leave the office to spend the last week of the year in a drunken stupor and with permanent indigestion, let’s take a moment to make up a balance of 2017. Even though it’s been pretty quiet here on the Data Ninjas front, we haven’t been sitting on our ass, as they say here in Belgium [which isn’t exactly true, since to be able to do my job, I need to sit on my ass, so I do that quite a lot, actually]. Not a lot of new networky stuff, I’m afraid, although I have given quite some workshops and classes this year. All hail the Spaghetti Monster! Silke has an awesome job in Dublin, home of U2, Guinness, Guinness, coddle, and Guinness. She has infiltrated the corporate world, and is now soaking up invaluable skillz and is brainwashing strategic players so that one day, in the hopefully not so distant future, world domination is ours. Her first mission was Google, one which she accomplished with great success. She has now moved on to the next big corporation on our list, which I cannot reveal here, since it would endanger her operation. So may you forgive her for not reporting to you as frequently and enthusiastically as she used to; her work is now classified as top secret. Rest assured, I have not forsaken pastafariansim either. I have simply been expanding my personal ‘DH toolkit’ with a new set of digital skillz that allow me to become a true…

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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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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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Where do data ninjas go for help?

Where do DataNinjas go for help against that unbeatable foe called Gephi? That’s right, they ask online and wait for other ninjas to come to the rescue! They then ask them to write a guest post on their award winning blog. I am Sir Simon of Gephi and I nobly answered just such a call-to-arms. Aside from being Silke’s occasional tech support, I also own the complete Adventures of Tintin and an Iron Age spear, so I have all of the relevant Belgian/classicist credentials to be here (also I’m working on a PhD that involves crime and SNA or some such nonsense). For a slightly different approach to spaghetti monsters to the usual DataNinja stuff, I’m going to highlight how to construct networks from twitter and tell the tale of a trip to a pub with some digital classicists… Twitter digital classicist network After helping Silke cure about a 1000 errors that were occurring when data was imported into Gephi, she was kind enough to invite me along to a Digital Classicist lecture at King’s to see what sort of thing is going on in the DC field. There was a jolly interesting talk given by Leif Isaksen and Elton Barker about the Pelagios project and Recogito, and perhaps even more interesting to someone interested in spaghetti monsters, people were being encouraged to use #DigiClass to interact with the presentation. Twitter digital classicist network: Nodexl There are various tools which can be used to gather this data, my personal preference…

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Still looking for somewhere to unwind in 2015? Why not do a conference – city trip combo? Transportation costs are on the house! If your project/grant covers them of course, otherwise don’t bother – just go on a proper vacation. And don’t start that ‘I don’t have time for vacation’ crap. Bullshit. Cut your Twitter and Tinder time in half and you’ve already got three weeks to spare.     Challenge the Past/Diversify the Future: A Critical Approach to Visual and Multi-SensoryRepresentations for History and Culture in Gothenburg (March 19-21 2015) Multi-sensory representations?! I don’t think I want to know what an average Egyptian DIY-mud-and-poo-brick house smelt like. Or taste the notorious Roman fish gut seasoning. But there’s more brainy stuff to explore here. Posh UK-based Ninja is part of a panel that will discuss error and subjectivity in our sources. Her presentation will focus on spaghetti monsters of course. She’s going to talk about the instinctivity (I’m making up words again, right?) of layouts and the problem of statictivity (maybe I should start my own dictionary) of networks and how to deal with time lapse. And there’s the Volvo museum. Now who’d wanna miss out on that?! Computer Applicationsand Quantitative Methods in Archaeology in Siena (March 30 – April 3 2015) This year’s Woodstock for archaeologists who like to go digital is held in Siena. Surrounded by rolling Tuscan hills, ancient vineyards, quirky medieval towns and Renaissance masterpieces all just a few miles away… Need I say more?! To Mine and…

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Preparing your dataset for network analysis: a general introduction

Last week, your beloved Data Ninjas helped organize a workshop on how to get started with databases at the HNR2014 conference in Ghent. Due to popular demand, we’ll summarize the basic principles here. There’s nothing really SNA’y about building a database of course, but before you can go crazy with SNA, you have to have your data organized, so this is pretty important if you want to get something out of it easily. We’ve never really given this much thought actually: we’re pretty spoiled in this respect, because the database we work with, Trismegistos, was practically handed to us on a silver platter. Well, to Silke at least, two years ago. I actually helped build a large part of it for my PhD research, resulting in nightmares, insomnia and eventually a temporary ban on parsing names. Oh, those were the days… But we realize that others are not so fortunate and have to build theirs from scratch, which prompted our inner Mother Teresas to spread our miraculous database transubstantiation skillz among our peeps. For starters, we use Filemaker, cuz, well, that’s what Trismegistos rolls with. It’s really easy to work with: in fact, when you create a new database (File > New database; see: it’s that easy!), you automatically enter ‘layout mode’ and a ‘field picker’ pops up, in which you can start creating a list of new fields, which you can then drag to your new database (fig. 1 & 2).    Fig. 1: Filemaker ‘field picker’   Fig.…

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EUSN 2014

With a slight ‘retardation’, our recap of the historical sessions of the first EUSN conference. There were inspiring papers, fancy posters, delicious tapas, amazing vocals, and a keynote that took the FIFA world ranking to a whole new level (and the games themselves of course; but why on earth would you shut down your bar at midnight with Belgium-USA at 0-0 and extra time coming up??).  We were spoilt here, with two full sessions on historical network analysis. On Wednesday, the first started off with the late middle ages, and how the social organisation of the Hansa, with its extensive trade network, changed in towns like Lübeck and Hamburg after the Black Death (‘Plague and Position: The Black Death and the Emergence of the Medieval Hansa’ by Bernd Wurpts and Katherine Stovel). Based on property transfers documented in wills, and kinship networks, they discovered that ‘new men’, i.e. new citizens, came in and acted as brokers across towns, connecting the local elites, and that the regulation of private property transfer possibly spilled over from the legal/religious to the political/economic sphere and was therefore the the cause for the regulation of the Hansa trade.            Next up was Cornell Jackson (‘Exploring the Relationships among the People of Medieval Scotland’), Silke’s very own SNA Jedi master. He’s not a historian himself, but with his SNA background he contributes to the People of Medieval Scotland project. He created a witness affiliation network based on charters, and tested Valente’s diffusion models (Network Models of the Diffusion of Innovations,…

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