Histoire numérique et l’historiographie

From text to data to networks

Many network analysis projects rely on somewhat ready-made sources for data; for example, email logs, questionnaires, church registers, letter exchanges and trade relations make it relatively easy to identify who is connected to whom and how. It is, however, considerably more difficult to extract quantifiable data from text. Some issues to consider here are: how can we bridge the gap between the depth of hermeneutics and data analysis? How can we systematize text interpretation?
This first part of the workshop will address the above question and provide hands-on experience with the extraction of network data from a narrative through the use of methods developed in qualitative data analysis. Participants will work with a first-person narrative of a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust and extract data using an existing coding scheme.

The second part will build on the data extracted during the first part and will provide participants with the technical skills to use entry-level software tools to visualize and explore social networks. Here are some of the questions that we will consider:
• how do visualizations change our perception of coded data?
• how can we translate hypotheses into data visualizations and which new questions can network visualizations raise?
We will also critically assess the added value of network visualizations, the underlying principles behind visualization layouts as well as network computations, and finally, their potential to mislead uncritical audiences.

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