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Spaghetti monster survey (1)

Today we are introducing a new noodly feature: the one and only spaghetti monster survey!
The goal: invite SNA-minded historians (like Marten Düring) and archaeologists to fill out a short interview with SNA (and perhaps not so SNA-) related questions. This way, you, our dear readers, get an idea of what is going on in our little specialized community, and you’re not just stuck with posts in which we ramble on about Daniel Craig and vagina parades. Yo bitches gots to learn (I might be watching a little too much Orange is the New Black…).

Marten Düring

Our first volunteer is Marten Düring, who works at the Centre virtuel de la connaissance sur l’Europe in Luxemburg (land of cheap gas and tax deals), and is one of the brains behind the Historical Network Research platform. Give him a cheer, folks!

Marten Düring marten-during

Name: Marten Düring

Year of birth: I quite like option b 🙂
[option b: I was not born, I literally split off from my creator’s brain. I am what you call ‘an alien’ sent from Laicos Krowten (the galaxy you label UDFy-38135539) to infiltrate the human race. SNA is simply a hobby. Due to our government’s overly-successful mitosis program, we are dealing with a food crisis at home, and I have come here to learn your ways of dealing with this problem. Although it has been a highly disappointing journey in that respect so far, I have come to appreciate your delicate cuisine. I am a great fan of bubblegum flavored ice cream, Belgian fries, and mega stuff Oreo’s (why do they still bother with the regular ones? Or at least label them as Diet Oreo’s). But I digress. Next question.]

Institution: CVCE, Luxembourg

Hogwarts house: Huh? You pick.
(The options are: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin. If you have not yet enrolled, please visit and complete the procedure)
Well that’s easy then: Gryffindor. I want all you SNA savvies on my side!

Field: Contemporary history, Digital Humanities

Hobbies: See above and failing to find a good use for my Raspberry Pi.
Did someone say raspberry pie?!

Favorite book: For quite a few years now I keep on coming back to Chris Lorenz’ Konstruktion der Vergangenheit, time for a re-read actually.

How did you end up in the world of SNA?
I knew that I wanted to systematically study a large number of social relations between Jews in hiding and their helpers during World War II for my PhD project. Someone then mentioned “Networks of Nazi Persecution”, an edited volume by Wolfgang Seibel and Jörg Raab. Both had applied SNA methods to understand Nazi looting in the occupied countries and Jörg went on to study covert networks. This got me started and Jörg kindly agreed to co-supervise my thesis.

What’s your latest research about?
Together with a colleague we are preparing a small project on Pierre Werner’s ego network ,which method-wise, will be quite close to my previous work. Parallel to this I am working on interlinking CVCE’s biographies and the redevelopment of histoGraph (, now a technical demonstrator for the indexation and graph-based exploration of historical photo collections.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve applied SNA to?
A spring embedder layout on a 30MB text file with bibliographic data on my 2GB RAM laptop just to see what happens & one of the times I felt genuine pity for a machine.

Favorite centrality measure & why:
Degree centrality, best trade-off between explainability and potential insight.

Must-read SNA-related article/book (feel free to cite yourself):
I liked Emirbayer/Goodwin, “Network Analysis, Culture, and the Problem of Agency” a lot and we hope to publish a complementary handbook on SNA specifically for historians this year (it’ll be in German, sorry).

Message to beginning SNA’ists?

Consider helping me with keeping the bibliography over at relevant and up-to-date.

I already folded. I’m such a sucker…


Thanks, Marten Düring!

There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Who else wants to give it a go? You can squeeze in your freebie list and Tinder profile pic if you like, we’re pretty open-minded. Just give us a nudge thru our brand-new contact page.

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