Wednesday, March 4, 2:00-3:30 pm
Williams Building 454
The (un)Certainty of Digital History and Social Networking
For microhistorians investigating how people conduct their lives within particular groups or units of culture, local and transnational methodologies can operate in a complementary way, simultaneously reducing and broadening historians’ scales of observation, allowing them to notice both outliers and patterns. Databases of historical individuals are one kind of methodology (or tool) that emerges from this work, and while databases often serve as tools for gathering and curating data, they can also serve as spaces for critically questioning and analyzing the motives that guide our conceptions of what it means to do digital history with any certainty. For the third meeting of this semester’s Digital Scholars reading and discussion group, Professor Will Hanley from FSU’s Department of History will lead us in a discussion of these concerns.
Drawing on his experiences with Prosop, a graph database of persons appearing in eastern Mediterranean archives, Professor Hanley will explore the particular challenges of recording, sharing, and serializing historical person-data of uncertain form and meaning. He will consider this category problem in the context of SNAC and other historical social network databases, most of which do not face similar problems of uncertainty. Veterans of Digital Scholars may remember Professor Hanley’s 2011 presentation on Prosop, and we look forward to engaging him again, and learning about how the project has grown from its original conceptions as an ontology into a crowd-sourced tool for sharing and aggregating historical data.
Participants are invited to read the following:
- Tom J. Lynch, “Social Networks and Archival Context Project: A Case Study of Emerging Cybrainfrastructure,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 8.3 (2014)
- Claire Lemercier, “Formal Network Methods in History: Why and How?“, in Georg Fertig, ed., Social Networks, Political Institutions, and Rural Societies (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011)
- Ansley T. Erickson, “Historical Research and the Problem of Categories: Reflections on 10,000 Digital Note Cards,” in Kirsten Nawrotzki and Jack Dougherty, eds., Writing History in the Digital Age (University of Michigan, 2013)
We hope you can join us,