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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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Presenting: Trismegistos Editors and Trismegistos Networks

Ladies and gentleman! Oy! While the Veneto region is crippled by a heat wave, in which your dearest data ninjas will be glowing radiantly next week for a workshop on prosopographies of Roman Egypt, in Leuven the Trismegistos team has been working its ass off to get two new TM sections up and running: TM editors and TM networks. Now crack that bottle, because they’re finally here! TM editors provides an overview of all papyrological and epigraphic publications by “modern” scholars. I say “modern”, since many have already been chewed up, digested and spat out during invertibrate munchfests over the past century. We distinguish between three types of publications: editions of ancient texts, publications relating to these (mainly Greek) texts listed in the Bibliographie Papyrologique, and publications relating to these (mainly Demotic) texts listed in the Demotische Literaturübersicht. So you can now look up a name of a famous papyrologist, lets say ‘Broux’, and you get a very depressing overview of the very little work I’ve done so far that is relevant for these categories. To make these boring lists a little more interesting, I created networks of co-editors and co-authors. What am I thinking? A little?! They’re the only things worth looking at! These are top-end spaghetti monsters, you won’t get them more slimy and succulent elsewhere! So on my individual editor page you get three networks: the first one visualizes who I edited texts with (no-one, which is actually NOT TRUE since I’ve published two funerary stelae together with our Leuven samurai Willy Clarysse, but…

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The TOMATOR

You know those keynotes Apple holds every September to brag about their newest gadgets? Everyone’s been speculating for months, leaks have gone viral, you’ve been cursing your eleven months old iPhone for the last two months because they’re promising something so much better. And then all these bright and shiny new toys are revealed, and you have to wait another couple of months before you can get your hands on them…  Yeah? Well, consider this about the same magnitude. While Silke has declared war on the squirrel decapitating her garden flowers, I have been trying out Gephi’s timeline, another neat feature that allows you to monitor changes in a network over time. You’ll definitely hear more about this later! What you need to make Gephi’s timeline work is, and hold on to your horses now, this might come as quite a shocker: dates. Now, I don’t like to criticize Trismegistos1. Trismegistos is pure perfection, of course. Nothing comes close to its beautifully built relational structure. PER is to its REFs like milk is to Double Stuff Oreo’s; GEO stores place names like Madonna harvests poor Malawi children; TEX holds it all together like an indispensable wooden Ikea peg. But what you can’t do in Trismegistos is extract a one-mode network of people linked to people, with dates. Or without dates, for that matter. This requires an intermediate step. We can extract a two-mode network of people appearing in texts, since TM People is linked directly to TM Texts, and then we can convert…

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Spaghetti monster survey (2)

It is Sunday. It is gloomy. It is rainy. Daylight saving time kicked in last night, meaning my blissful beauty sleep was cut short by an hour. On top of that, I dreamed I was at the hairdresser, always a dreadful experience in my opinion, and she fucked up my hair.     There. Glad I could get that off my chest. What a therapeutic effect it has to rant and rave about magnificently insignificant tribulations to no-one and anyone reading this in particular. I feel like such a star. I should probably also post a photo of myself french-kissing a dog on Twitter Miley Cyrus-wise (and that ain’t even nasty in her book). With photoshopped abs, obviously. We don’t do au naturel. But enough about me. Another spaghetti monster interview came in last week! I would introduce him, but that would defeat the whole purpose of the interview. So here it goes: Name: Tom Brughmans Year of birth: 1985 Institution: Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Konstanz Hogwarts house: I don’t believe in the house-system, the college-system, or any other institutionalized forms of social segregation. What do SNA’ists got against Harry Potter?! I’m starting to think I should pick another field… Field: Archaeology Hobbies: I used to cook, play guitar, drink fancy green tea and hang out with other hippies, but then my PhD happened.You just posted a picture of a Carib beer bottle under palm trees on a white sand beach on some tropical island. Work-related. Shut up. Favorite book: 1984 How did you end up in…

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Onomastic network in Trismegistos People

Dear tootsie rolls, A while back I posted how the Oxford Internet Institute made this world a better place thanks to their sigma.js export plugin for Gephi. When I demonstrated this little gem to our Trismegistos Overlord, he was dead psyched. I tell you, that man can smell an opportunity aeons away.      So these past couple of weeks, he’s been edging me on to make networks of just about everything in Trismegistos. Compliant, obliging and submissive as I am, I’ve been doing practically nothing else ever since. The first database I conquered is the Names database. With 17,182 nodes and 69,860 edges, this is definitely the largest network I’ve set up so far. And now it’s all yours to play around with! It’s got a nice Egyptian component, and a Greek component, and some ambiguous names, like Anoubas, in the middle.    But our terrifyingly transcendental Trismegistos overlord had bigger plans still. Last week, he finally let me in on the deal: not only would we post the network online with the help of the plug-in, we would also display the ego network of each individual name.      So now, when you look up a name, like Achilleus (for those of you heathens who haven’t looked up names in Trismegistos yet, see fig. 1 & 2), you not only get an overview of all the variants, the number of attestations, the chronological and geographical spread, but also a visualization of all the other names Achilleus is connected to. Like…

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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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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 to Tie:Text…

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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. 2: Filemaker…

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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 RumsfeldSubmitted 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 Unknowns“There…

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