Networking and Connectivity

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      The commercial pathology of the keyboard  http://grundini.com/

This week we took a glimpse on network analysis and we commented on the dynamics of social networks. In our tutorial session we tried NodeXL, a programme which creates networks by connecting edges and nodes and we discussed about the centrality and betweeness of networks. For those of you who are not aware of social networking terminology, nodes or vertices are the dots in an network whereas edges are the links which unite them. As the essay ‘Complex Networks: An Invitation’ in Network Sciences’ informs us, a network can depict relationships of a variety of things from webpages and word relations to hyperlinks, companies and characters relationships (2).  Network properties of connectivity and betweeness centrality refer to the ways nodes link between each other and how visible and powerful one node is in a network. Connectivity measures how whereas betweeness centrality shows nodes that are predominant in a network, have a global effect but at the same time might not be necessarily visible and need to be calculated with advanced mathematical formulas. The following pictures are an example of this.

  • Does Kristevas’ ‘Intertextuality’ links to edges and nodes?

In ‘Theorizing Connectivity: Modernism and the Network Narrative’ Wesley and Lanvin referred to Kristeva’s idea of ‘inter-textuality’ to pinpoint that the basis of connectivity were influenced by post-structuralist critical theorists. (3) It is true that inter-textuality refers to quoting whereas network connectivity can relate a node that is not obviously related with another. I would argue that networks are powerful and present almost everywhere and is a practical way to visualize human relations or even political relations. They were used to be always there but network theory is a plausible way to visualize them. Some might find it reductive but there is no doubt that it is practical. I would try to justify the above point by providing few examples of DH projects:

  • Mapping Genealogical Relations

Mapping ourselves in history and exploring our family roots is a crucial part of our sense of belonging and the formation of our national and cultural identity. Genealogical and Family Histories studies (an area of anthropological studies) are researching personal and social histories. In Scotland, this field of academic interest is highly developed. In Edinburgh the National Library of Scotland along with Scotlands People Centre and the National Records of Scotland are some of the most prominent places for research in this field. There is also the Scottish Genealogy Society, runned by volunteers, which helps people to develop skills on researching ancestral and family history.

Trying to get an insight into ancestral roots and Scottish and family history, I came across with the People of Medieval Scotland (1093-1314). This DH project is a collaboration of Scottish (University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow) and British (King’s College London, Lancaster University) and was funded by the AHRC council. It is basically a database that has a search engine which traces the names of well-known Scottish people from a corpus of 8600 documents. It is searchable enough and you can also find citations from all these documents. Royal family trees, graphs for tracing the average life expectancy of people and multiple kinds of visualizations for relations between people and institutions are among its exhibits.

However, what is more interesting is the network of relations of a land transaction. The network graph depicts relations between the people of a transaction and its witnesses. In this example of the land transaction between Alwin, abbot of Holyrood, and Arnold, abbot of Kelso, the central node (with the red title) shows the people took part in the transaction whereas the other nodes (in yellow title) portray the witnesses. The network is expanding by moving around between vertices where we can further explore other exchanges in which these agents observed. For instance, by clinking on Ralph, abbot of Newbattle, we are further move on to Agreement between Holyrood Abbey and Kelso and we are directed to another witness as well.

Other projects that might be of interest and are linking to that are: The Paradox of Medieval Scotland and The breaking of Britain recording interactions between the Crown and people in the three northern counties of England from 1216 to 1307. These projects also address issues of medieval historical interest.

Depicting  linguistic connections between poems

NewRadial is a tool that has many possibilities. It functions as a search engine on the web but it can also assists in tracing linguistic relations between texts chosen from a specific corpus by creating a social network of identical words appearing in each poem. Unfortunately, it is not very searchable as you have to sign in order to explore it fully. For this reason, I am uploading my results as an image. Although, its corpus is limited you can still discover meaningful word-correlations.

newradial

More specifically, there is a central basic network. The nodes are Shelley’s  Ozymandias,  and Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale and Ode to a Grecian Urn. Searching for linguistic correlations of the word ‘heart’ we can observe that there are three circles emerging from our basic network, which are depicting our poems. The node in the middle of each circle represents the poems and the nodes surrounding our main nodes are the stanzas. These are connected to another network which organises its poem according to its stanzas and lines. For instance, we can see that ‘heart’ it can be found in l. 8 in Ozymandias which has only one stanza, in l. 1 of the first stanza in l.66 of the 7th stanza in Ode to a Nightingale and in l. 29 of the third stanza in Ode to a Grecian Urn. This might lead us to coorelations between the two poets.

This seems to be my last blog-post for our DH course :-( . My ‘diving into the unknown world’ of omniscient data, the stream of macroanalysis and adsurd XML files is gradually moving towards to a completion. However, in a post-modern digital world there is only open-endedness and my long-lasting cyberspace journey through humanities’ web is not likely to arrive at the ‘Ithaca’ of knowledge. Visualizations are eye-catching but what matters the most is our ability to interpret, challenge and create new questions in the mathematically true models we are given.

Works Cited:

My cover: It describes the connectivity of the parts of the body and their money-value in our digital and capitalistic era. It is an alternative network of connections.I had in mind Twalue that measures your how much does your tweeter account worth. Our blog is heading to a very gloomy ‘Home’ page so I was trying to colour it a little. The picture was taken from Information is Beautiful and was awarded this site’s prize in 2012.

Estrada, Ernesto et al. ‘Complex Networks: An Invitation‘ in Network Science. Complexity in Nature and Technology. Estrada, Fox, Higham & Oppo (Eds.) London: Springer, 2010. pp. 1 – 12. Web

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-84996-396-1_1

Beal, Wesley and Lanvin, Stacy. ‘Theorizing Connectivity: Modernism and the Network Narrative‘ Special Issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly. 5.2 (2011). Web http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/2/000097/000097.html

New Radial Adapter.  Inke Acadiau. 30 Nov. 2013. Web http://inke.acadiau.ca/newradial/

Amanda Beam, John Bradley, Dauvit Broun, John Reuben Davies, Matthew Hammond, Michele Pasin (with others), The People of Medieval Scotland, 1093 – 1314 (Glasgow and London, 2012), www.poms.ac.uk. [accessed 17 Nov. 2013]

More information about the Medieval Time Project  (http://www.poms.ac.uk/information/) :

Explanation of visualizations can be found in the Lab tab or in the What’s This orange box section on  right top.

General information about the site on the Information section.

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