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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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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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Well smack my ass and call me Judy*

*I was going to send this around in a ‘thank you’ mail, but our Trismegistos overlord forbade me to mutilate my gluteus maximus and pose under a false, albeit a very decent Christian, name before the whole papyrological community. In Roman Egypt, acting under a false identity was punished by confiscation of one-fourth of your property, and I’m just not ready to give up my three iPods, two iPads, Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air and iPhone (even though the screen is shattered). It is Monday, and if you’ve been monitoring us closely, you’ll have noticed that normally we don’t post on Mondays. That’s because Mondays are meant for moping. Especially Monday mornings. And I define ‘morning’ as anything before 2PM. Usually on Monday mornings you will not find me in the most cheerful of moods, especially not if my alarm clock jolts me out of my sleep while dreaming of freshly baked pancakes smothered with maple syrup, fresh blueberries and lamb chops (don’t ask, it’s Lent…). But while doing a routine wake-up email check (oh just admit it, you do it to), I noticed that the results of the DH Awards 2014 had already come in. And guess who won in the category ‘Best DH blog post or series of blog posts’? That’s right: yours truly. If only all Mondays could start like this. So here’s a big ‘thank you’ for helping us out on this one: THANK YOU! A lot of people wrote back that they didn’t understand a word of…

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We need your vote!

Dear spaghetti monster aficionados,  We have some wonderfully stringy news!  Your favorite bedtime stories have been nominated for the annual Digital Humanities Awards in the category ‘Best DH blog post or series of posts’! So what we need now are votes. Now is YOUR chance, dear readers, to shine!  Simply go to the voting page, scroll to the bottom and click on the link to the Google document, and select ‘Six degrees of Spaghetti Monsters’ in the last category. It will literally only take up a couple of seconds of your time (you don’t need to vote for the other categories)! Also, feel free to pester friends, family, colleagues, your next-door neighbour’s dog, … into casting their vote as well. Unfortunately, we can’t promise you high hats, monocles and rainbow-colored unicorns. There are fairy godmothers for those kind of things. But we can promise you eternal gratitude! Yours truly,Your DataNinjas PS: Bet you’re glad you don’t have to vote for these guys anymore, huh?

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Sex sells

Sex sells. It has been proven by very brainy people like ourselves, that if something is straddled by a busty blond in a skimpy bikini with legs up to her ass, chances are high the guy will buy. Women need a little extra stimulus, apparently, but hand them a pair of boxer shorts to fondle, and they max out those credit cards faster than you can blink. And you probably won’t be getting those boxers back either. (I’ve been dying to test if this is true. I want a new iPhone, mine’s hanging on a thread since I dropped it one to many times. But they’re so damn expensive, I keep putting it off. So I’ve been hanging around the local superstore’s phone department the past couple of weeks, waiting for a husky sales guy to flash me the rim of his tighty wighties while reaching for something on the top shelf so I can casually brush my fingers against it, hoping this will tip me over the edge. But no luck so far. The main reasons being a) husky guys don’t work in geeky chain stores, and b) if there were a husky sales guy, I’d be too shy to ask him to reach for something on the top shelf). So, like I said in the previous post: my first idea for the YouReCa challenge was sex. With only six minutes to entertain and educate the audience, we needed something everyone was familiar with. Luckily, Romans loved sex. And…

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Challenge accepted!

Science Slam YouReCa Challenge 2014 You may have heard a rumor here or there, and yes, it’s true, your beloved Data Ninjas rocked a Science Slam. What is this perversion, slamming science, you ask? Well, if you know us at all, you know that’s what we do: we make fun of our research. Not only laugh at it, but also just simply, plainly, down-to-earthly, ever-so-innocently make it fun. Because what’s the fun in doing research every day, if it isn’t fun? And with that last sentence you have your proof: God does everything for a reason, and there’s a reason he didn’t make us philosophists. Er, philosophers. Guess there’s a reason he didn’t make us literary geniuses as well… So, this Science Slam YouReCa Challenge 2014: it’s organized by the KU Leuven’s career center every year, and the idea behind it is to promote science communication. Several emails had been sent out, urging young researchers to apply, which I all steadily ignored because of my not so latent suffering of flop sweat (and this is not meant in the second sense provided by Urban Dictionary). I should have known that I could not trust my attention-addicted academic twin though. One nice and sunny day, somewhere in October, innocently minding my own networky business while I’m enjoying a Pop Tart or a spoon of frosting no doubt (spaghetti monsters require a lot of energy!), my iMessage starts bleeping with the usual London drivel, during which she casually drops the line ‘I…

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“I’m not into this detail stuff. I’m more concepty.”

When it comes to Digital Humanities, listen to your uncle Donald. Elijah Meeks saw the truth in this  and distilled four valuable lessons from Rummy’s unsurpassable sayings every Digital Humanities scholar should mount in a frame and hang next to that shabby, yellowed conference poster that makes the sad, whitewashed walls of your it’s-designed-for-two-but-let’s-cram-in-five-staff-members work space look even more pathetic than if you would get rid of it. 4 Lessons for Digital Humanities Scholars from Donald Rumsfeld Submitted by Elijah Meeks on Wed, 08/27/2014 – 12:50  As digital humanities scholarship matures, it behooves us to look to thinkers outside the field for help in crafting our research agenda and planning our projects. One of those thinkers is Donald Rumsfeld, the Socrates of Strategery, whose insightful rhetoric can guide us in our treatment of this young field. Some of you might be thinking, “Who’s Donald Rumsfeld?” If you don’t know who Donald Rumsfeld is, you can skip reading this, since you’re not firmly enough ensconced in the fear, uncertainty and doubt that comes from trying to understand the place of humanities scholarship in relation to new technologies, new media, and new modes of engagement.  For those who do know Donald Rumsfeld, you know that he had a way of expressing the complex, postmodern world in a way that was simultaneously accessible and fertile. Like a modern Laozi, his seemingly blaise descriptions of complex systems contain multilayered wisdom of the kind necessary for identifying the key features of such systems.  Lesson 1: Known…

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A network framework of cultural history

Have we got another great network for you guys! We can only dream of creating such sophisticated maps and diagrams one day…     One of my super secret network informants tipped me off about this article in Science magazine: basically, what a group of researchers did was map out where a bunch of (historical) celebrities let out their first cry (blue) and where they snuffed it (red). This resulted in this amazing video: It runs from 600 BC till, well, right about now actually, using the dates and locations of the births and deaths of some 120,000 individuals (but keep in mind that it’s biased towards the US and Europe).    To quote Nature:  ‘Historians tend to focus in highly specialized areas, says Schich. “But our data allow them to see unexpected correlations between obscure events never considered historically important and shifts in migration.’ Yup, that’s what we’re here for, folks. You’re welcome. 

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Shake those tail feathers (3)

  All good things come to an end, and so it is with the 20th edition of the World Cup. After a month full of love bites, nerve-wrecking extra time, Schwalbe’s that could teach this kid a lesson or two, and even a game where you only needed to blink to miss a goal, we can finally catch up on that much-needed sleep and return to a more healthy dietary regime than potato chips or ready-to-eat meals (running back and forth between the TV and the microwave during those 5 bloody minutes, ready-to-eat my ***! I practiced so much on that incendio spell with my wand; I guess I should really start accepting the fact that Muggle material’s all I’ve got in me, and that Hogwarts doesn’t send out acceptance letters to 28-year-olds…). So, this is what the final network looks like: Germany clearly stands out here, with the highest weighted outdegree. According to our statistics, they should have faced the Netherlands in the final instead of Argentina (based on the number of goals in the previous games), but those ****** Argentinians with their sterile defence again (we’re not a fan here in Belgium…). I wasn’t quite satisfied with this graph though. With the draws left out, it kind of splits the tournament up into two divisions and with that giant arrow pointing at Brasil somehow creates the illusion that that game was the grand finale (though in terms of jaw-dropping statistics it probably was a winner). So I decided to try the old method…

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