network analysis

“Networks, Maps, and Time: Visualizing Historical Networks Using Palladio” by Melanie Conroy discusses the use of Palladio, a data tool that allows you to filter, produce diagrams, and display data spatially. 

The article highlights how data visualization can be tricky within humanities scholarship because it requires knowledge of both visualization principles and mathematics. This can be achieved through collaboration with scholars who have these specific skill sets but finding affordable and available data science collaborators can be challenging. 

Palladio was developed by historians making it an interesting tool to analyze within the realm of digital humanities. I am interested in the future of data management and visualization tools specifically created for humanities scholarship. I posit that digital humanities scholarship will become easier for humanists without a background in data science and visualization as more tools such as Palladio are created. I also believe that it is increasingly important for humanities scholars to learn digital skills, data science principles, and visualization techniques. I wonder what the future will look like – will there be more emphasis on learning digital skills within humanities academic programs? I can foresee three futures emerging within the realm of digital humanities scholarship. 1) The increased need for humanities scholars to train in digital skills. 

2) Continued specialization and increased collaboration. 3) The creation of more tools by data science professionals that allow humanities scholars without comprehensive digital skills to work with data and make visualizations. 

I believe that increased collaboration between humanities and data science fields would help bridge gaps that keep many disciplines unnecessarily separate from one another. While it seems like humanities scholars should be trained in digital skills, I still think there should be an element of collaboration between disciplines on academic projects. 

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ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World 

This tool is extremely well designed and glitch-free. A problem with many DH projects is the breakdown of the digital interface overtime. This project seems as if there are people constantly working on maintenance and upkeep. I appreciate how the tool includes information about its creations and about how one should interact with the tool. It also includes an optional tutorial that helps you navigate the site. 

The project is a way to understand transportation within the Roman World. With this tool, users are able to choose a starting and end point within the Roman World. The user is able to control the season, transportation method, and other aspects of the proposed journey. It is immediately clear this project is backed by a large amount of scholarship. The user is able to choose very specific options to alter the specifications of transportation. For example, one can choose which month or season, as well as which network modes (road, river, open sea, and coastal sea) can be included in the generated route. There are options to choose which attribute the generated route prioritizes: fastest, cheapest, or shortest. 

The generated Route displays the route on the physical map and includes many specific details that further highlight the extensive scholarship backing this project. The generated journey tells you the length of the trip, cost, distance, and which sections would be completed on a donkey, wagon, or carriage. 

This project seems well-suited for non-academic audiences – it is easy to use, even on your first visit to the site. The information is also presented in an extremely consumable and relatively accessible format. I imagine that older children would also be able to navigate this site. While not all DH tools need to be accessible and usable by the general public  – this project gives a great example of one that incorporates highly academic scholarship into a highly usable interface. This project gives me a glimpse into the types of digital humanities projects that might be used for younger, or more general audiences. 

1 comment

  1. Hi Anna! I really liked your comments. I agree that ORBIS is a great resource for a variety of audiences. It’s a really cool way for people to visualize and interact with something that’s pretty inaccessible to understand in a way that’s fun and engaging.
    You also make a good point about the importance of collaboration between data sciences and the humanities. I think that being able to collaborate will be just as –if not more– important in the digital age as DH. It’s so cool to see these ideas synthesized throughout the course!

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