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Historical Network Analysis | DataNinjas Posts

Our very first poster!

Just a quick post to share the poster we presented at the Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences Day organized by the KU Leuven Doctoral School for the Humanities and Social Sciences (yup, we’ve got a very creative title management department here…): More info on how to identify individuals with the help of network visualization soon! By the way, has anyone ever noticed…  

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DataNinjas = read.csv(“software.csv”, head=T, sep=”;”, na.strings=na) (1)

So, now you’ve caught up with the basics of SNA you’re just dying to try it yourself, right?! Alright! Now, the next step is finding the right software. BE WARNED though! If you’re thinking: ‘Yes! I’ll just dump my data in the first program they mention, tap a few buttons and all secrets will be revealed’, you’re seriously mistaken. The computer does not solve your research questions for you. If it were that easy, we’d all be out on the streets begging for a job. You can let the computer perform all the hocus pocus you want, YOU are still going to have to interpret the results. There, now we scared of the SNA posers, we can get down to business. UCINET Tutorial: Why UCINET? There’s tons of software out there to help you with your calculations, correlations, transformations, permutations, visualizations, … (here we go with the –ations again! Seriously! Maybe I should make a network out of them). There are all-rounders, like UCINET, some focus more on the numbers (such as R), others (Gephi for example) are geared toward those who like fancy spaghetti monsters (guess who?!). If you’re working with really large, or even HUGE data, Pajek’s your cup of tea, although it works just as well for small networks. There’s no such thing as “the best” program to work with, although everyone probably has a favorite. Gephi is our top choice, not just because of the fancy schmancy visuals, but also because it’s very user-friendly. When it comes…

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Social Network Analysis for Dummies

What’s that? You want us to tell you all about nodes, edges and SNA metrics? A veritable ‘Social Network Analysis for Dummies’? You got it! But before we take you on our little ‘intellectual’ journey, let’s get caffeinated and make ourselves comfortable. Yes, that’s an order! So put your feet up! (if you’re at work: colleagues make great footrests – you’re welcome) If at this point you’ve made yourself a fort of cushions, you’re my hero. Anyway, anyway, time to get down to business! Social Network Analysis for Dummies: Part 1 First of all, what is Social Network Analysis (SNA) all about? As with everything, there are many different definitions floating about but we’ve tried to keep it simple and clear for you. SNA is a quantitative and qualitative analysis of a social network. So you start with a social network, which is a structure made up of actors/entities (such as people, companies, whatever you want!) and their relationships. What happens to an actor is dictated by his position and the structure of his connections: this will determine which information or resources will (or will not) reach him and will therefore influence his behaviour or beliefs. These entities are called the nodes or vertices of a network. The relationships are what we call the ties or edges of a network. Matrices and graphs can be used to visualize this structure. A matrix sounds like a pretty scary thing, but not to worry! It’s actually quite a straightforward arrangement of our…

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Feeling thirsty??

Since we’re from Belgium, and Belgium’s all about beer, we have to share this: a visual beer recommendation system! If you go to you can select the type of beer you prefer (light, medium or dark), and then you get this cool visualization of all the different beers you might like, based on taste and aroma and a bunch of other stuff.  

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CFP: First European Conference on Social Networks

Alright! After a refreshingly humid Sunbelt XXXIV two weeks ago in Florida, the first European leg of this tour has been announced! The first ever European Conference for Social Networks will take place in Barcelona from July 1-4 at the Faculty of Arts at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The call for papers and posters is now open and abstracts can be submitted until April 1 and…historical network research is listed as one of the organized sessions! Put your hands up! Guess who signed up already?? Conference highlights:– wide range of workshops, including an intro to SNA (in general), R (intro + R for ego networks) and Pajek (for two-mode networks)– keynote speaker U. Brandes of the University of Konstanz, enlightening us about The Positional Turn in Social Network Analysis– summertime in Barcelona– hospitality suites from 10 PM to midnight– and of course the historical network research session! Be there or be ☐!

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Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow… (2)

Today we’re going to swamp you with some more SNA shizzle. Before you raise your arms to our Lord Almighty in suicidal despair: No more general knock-you-out SNA theory, this time we’re giving you the real stuff, the stuff that gets us buzzing: historical network analysis. First things first: why historical network analysis you ask? It’s true, we’ve met our fair share of historians who confess that the reason they chose for or stumbled into a career that focuses on the past was, not the hope that a time machine would be invented in the near future and would teleport them to their beloved era (although we are true believers ourselves, obviously), but their irrational fear of math, no, generally all things even remotely numerical. Balderdash, we say, numbers are fun! For example: how many Harry Potter books are there? Seven. Way to little if you ask us! How many movies? Only 8! Why not a Hobbitsy-like 21?? (That’s 7 books x 3 movies, you pipsqueak) Anywho, the following three articles argue why we should be using network analysis. The last one’s actually geared toward archaeologists, but, all rivalry aside, we should give them credit for discovering SNA first, and besides, it’s a nice and clear paper, and we’re not the snobby kind. Why do historical network analysis? Formal Network Methods in History: Why and How? by Claire Lemercier (in: G. Fertig, Social Networks, Political Institutions and Rural Societies 2010). Netwerkanalyse in den Geschichtswissenschaften. Historische Netzwerkanalyse als Methode für die…

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Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow… (1)

This post is for all you SNA novices (geek translation: inceptors) and should help you to see the forest for the trees. We’ll present you here with our favourite SNA introduction books/articles/courses – sadly, not on cupcakes, chocolate fountains or Harry Potter, although we are in possession of those as well (yes, we have Harry Potter. And we’re not giving him back) – but on the essentials of social network analysis. This is what we started with, and hopefully it will get you going as well. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of it right from the start, nobody does! 😉 We’ll start easy on you: Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert-László Barabási. A mainstream introduction to SNA and its manifold applications. Nice evening lecture actually… no really! Read it if you don’t believe us! You doubting Thomas, you! Analyzing Social Networks by Stephen Borgatti, Martin Everett and Jeffrey Johnson. This is a clear handbook on the principles of SNA without all of the mathematical formulas or other abracadabra that we proclaim to understand. Though some of you might recognize Borgatti as Ucinet’s creator, this is not exactly a software manual, although tips an’ tricks are included! Social Networks and Health: Models, Methods, and Applications by Thomas Valente. Another really good introduction to SNA, without the nerve-wracking formulas. Don’t be put off by the title: the health component appears only as an example to the theory.…

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Historical Network Projects: 7 excellent sites to get you started

Hey y’all! While we’re working on some new stuff, check out these other great sites about historical network projects (more links can be found under the menu item ‘Links’. Duh): Networks in the Roman Near East “The research project Mechanisms of cross-cultural interaction: Networks in the Roman Near East (2013-2016) investigates the resilient everyday ties, such as trade, religion and power, connecting people within and across fluctuating imperial borders in the Near East in the Roman Period. The project is funded under the Research Council of Norway’s SAMKUL initiative, and hosted by the Department of archaeology, history, cultural studies and religion, University of Bergen, Norway.” Project manager / blog editor: Elvind Heldaas Seland   Historical Network Research “This <historical network research> website is a platform for scholars to present their work, enable collaboration and provide those new to network analysis with some helpful first information.” Be sure to check out the Bibliography section! They also organize a yearly conference in September, in 2014 this will take place in Gent. We’ll keep you posted, obviously.   The Connected Past “The Connected Past is a community led by a multi-disciplinary international steering committee. It aims to provide discussion platforms for the development of original and critical applications of network and complexity approaches to archaeology and history. To this purpose The Connected Past organises international conferences, focused seminars and practical didactic workshops.” Next one up is in Paris in a couple of months (April 26).   Archaeological Networks Tom Brughmans’ blog on network theory in…

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