Category Archives: Posts

Nodegoat and Palladio: Introductory Workshop “Historische Netzwerke in Theorie und digitaler Praxis”

During the winter semester 2014-2015, Dr. Anne Baillot offered a course on historical networks in theory and digital practice at the Stuttgart Research Centre for Text Studies. She kindly invited Carolin Hahn and myself to give a workshop on various tools of data analysis and geovisualization.  This post and the attached slides aim at sharing my experience of software Nodegoat and Palladio, the two online-platforms I used as I attempted to organize my PhD’s sources.

These tools are already depicted in detail on their respective webpages. Palladio (Research+Humanities Lab at Stanford University), constitutes the easiest – and probably  fastest – way to draw your own network in no time. Nodegoat (developed by LAB1100‘s Pim van Bree and Geert Kessels), requires a little bit more attention at first, as the user needs to create its own framework from scratch before being able to visualize its date. Past the initial approach, it facilitates the work as it makes the frame entirely adapted to one’s own research needs.

The slides I used to present these tools are available here.

As this blog also seeks to raise methodological questions, I take the opportunity here to share my thoughts on a recurring question I hear, both as participant and organizer of workshops on networks analysis: “I have my data, but I’m no IT specialist, how can I quickly visualize my networks?”

Scientific Network Berlin SaintPetersburg Palladio
Exemple of visualization with Palladio: the scientific network between Berlin and Saint-Petersburg as seen in the correspondence of Jean-Albert Euler and Jean-Henri Samuel Formey

 

I observed many times that humanists willing to use digital tools remain reluctant to learn about their proper use first. They want a result, and a quick one. But the sole visualization of a corpus in space is meaningless if one doesn’t explain its meaning and its value by aiming at answering questions set up well before the drawing of a network. While network visualization allows to emphasize one or the other aspect of one’s research and strongly supports the analytical process, it can’t constitute the core of it, as it merely illustrates a postulate that had to be thought of earlier on in the research process. Visualizing networks is a mean, not an end. The difficulties to properly use a network in humanities were well explained by Gabriel Garrote on the blog Réseaux et Histoire in “Réseaux: de la notion à l’analyse. Heurs et malheurs d’un outil“.

 

Gephi – Introductory Workshop “Historische Netzwerke in Theorie und digitaler Praxis”

In January 2015, I held a lecture at Stuttgart University together with Emmanuelle Chaze focussing on possibilities offered by various software in terms of network visualization. The workshop was part of the course “Historical Network research” of Dr. Anne Baillot, holding a junior professorship at the Stuttgart Research Centre for Text Studies during the winter semester 2014-2015.
Emmanuelle Chaze presented Nodegoat and Palladio. I myself gave an introduction to Gephi. The attached presentation gives an impression of what is possible while using Gephi in Literary Studies.

Einführing Gephi Carolin Hahn
Network of characters from Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” ©GEPHI

Furthermore, a short introduction on how to install and use the software is provided. The presentation aims to provide guidance to get started with the program in a few simple steps. For further explanations see the tutorials on Gephi’s official website http://gephi.github.io/users/ and other websites or forums mentioned in the data file below. My presentation was given in German, and so is the attached PDF. Have fun!

GEPHI Introductory workshop by Carolin Hahn

Living history – We care.

Liberty

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These past few days have been unexpected in a lot of ways. No one expected to go through so many emotions – shock, sadness, disbelief, disgust, anger…What struck me the most was that instantly, people stood up together, regardless of religion, nationality, ethnicity, in an upsurge of solidarity that I never witnessed before.

We, everywhere in the world, all stood as one to protest against the actions of a minority trying to deprive us of our freedom of speech. All prejudices and differences seemed to have instantly disappeared in the aftermath of the attacks. People felt in their flesh that it was time to address problems that have been plaguing our country and society for decades now.

Suddenly, there was a feeling that there couldn’t be any democracy without freedom of speech. But there is no democracy for everyone where lies racism, xenophobia, intolerance or anti-Semitism either.

 

Equality

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In the aftermath of the attacks, I had interesting conversations with fellow expats – French nationals and others. French people were naturally shocked. But what struck me was the reaction of others. It was sad, they felt sorry for me, but they didn’t seem to quite understand why this single event found such a resonance worldwide.

Indeed, in December, terrorists killed more than 150 children in a school in Pakistan. How many people were in the Western world’s streets by then? This is also a question we have to address. Beyond the symbolism of freedom of speech, which triggered indignation against the Paris attacks worldwide, we – us and our governments – need to rethink the way we approach global politics.

We need to value human beings no matter where they live. We need to take terrorists attacks seriously no matter where they strike, no matter who dies. We need to do more, to engage more means where possible, to fight obscurantism by development, education, culture. But we need to do so with a spirit of mutual respect and give up western paternalism towards other cultures.

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So why should be we take action only now? Cynics worldwide warn that Je Suis Charlie will only be a bonfire. But because of what freedom of speech, and journalism, represent, we need to carry on what begun after the attacks. We need to nurture this determination to change things.

It doesn’t matter whether one agrees with Charlie’s editorial line or not – the fact is there is no democracy without freedom of speech. That is why people of France – and across the world – feel so strongly about that particular event. There is no liberty where there is no freedom of thought. However, now we must also learn to really live together, not as neighbours ignoring each other, but as a melting pot of cultures sharing the same values: liberty, equality, fraternity.

 Fraternity

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It is time now to realize that we need to change something inside our society. What is sad is that it took that terrible event to happen for people to be aware of it. Now that passiveness gave way to a feeling of belonging, a sense of common duty, it is time to rekindle our society and to really work on living together, side by side, regardless of beliefs or origins.

It is time to face what some tried to overlook: France is multifaceted: multiracial, multicultural. It is time to break the suburbs belts around big cities, and to engage in dialogue between rough neighbourhoods and bourgeois suburbs.

It is time to stop being afraid of someone who looks different. It is time to shake hands, to look the other in the eyes and embrace our differences. It is time to develop intercultural dialogue and reach out.

Today, in Berlin, before the Charlie gathering, I went to five different mosques. I overcame the fear I had to be rejected, insulted, or despised because I was different. I wanted to understand, as an atheist, my neighbours, and to stop just cohabiting with them. I was welcomed by every person I met. All condemned what happened in Paris.

Are we more divided now? More than ever, these terror attacks made me want to reach out people who think differently. Terrorists didn’t make me more fearful of others. We fear what we don’t know. We fear emptiness, doubt, differences, we fear what we can’t fathom. But together, we stand as one.

 

Thank you

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On a personal level, I would like to thank all of you who cared. Your kind messages, calls, words and hugs meant a lot, and I know every French person felt the same about such reactions.

Thanks to your words I felt sheltered, protected from these atrocities by the knowledge that beyond all this there is civilisation, built on love, trust, and tolerance.

I left my country because its politics and people were making me sad. I couldn’t stand its apathy anymore. In the aftermath of these attacks, out of all this darkness, France stood up again into light, with the beautiful, unconditional and international support we’ve seen.

I hope with all my heart that we only saw the beginning of a civil awakening, an awareness that our democracy belongs to us and that we are all its agents.

Charlie, what happened was such a waste. But something good will come out of it, because today we showed the world we cared.

Je suis Charlie

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Tonight you can’t think about France without having a heavy heart. The country lost at once a dozen of its journalists in a terrorist attack perpetrated in an attempt to muzzle its press. These journalists didn’t need to go to a war zone, their pens and pencils were their weapons. They were intellectuals, caricaturists, and first and foremost men and women. They used to make us laugh, to annoy us, to denounce barbarity, extremism, ignorance, fanaticism. Above all, they were the essence of our democracy. In a bid to stay true to their principles, they often went too far, but that is exactly what they were supposed to do in the “country of Human Rights”, where freedom of speech prevails.

Today they got up like every morning, they went to work, they met up with their colleagues, they gathered for the weekly meeting. They were probably joking with each other, pondering what to publish in the next issue of Charlie Hebdo.

Amongst them,[1] there was Jean Cabut (Cabu), aged 76, Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb), 47, Georges Wolinski (Wolinski), 80, Bernard Verlhac (Tignous), 58, Philippe Honoré (Honoré), 80. A bunch of partners in crime…the crime of using their freedom of speech, the crime of drawing pictures. Men who despite constant threats, never shied away from depicting our world with crude, disturbing, sarcastic but always funny drawings. Well-known artists, whose caricatures depicted French and international politics and societies throughout the 20th and 21st centuries up until today.

Only today, their lives, and their work, got brutally interrupted in a blood bath when a couple of individuals decided that they should be punished for their work, punished for their drawings,and be deprived of their lives for having dared to show something those terrorists disapproved of.

Tonight, the most amazing answer to this utter barbarity emerges: have they killed Charlie? no. Have they beheaded our press? no. Have they muzzled us? no. Have they succeeded in instilling terror, racism and suspicion amongst us? no. Look at the pictures throughout the press. Tonight we stand as one against violence, we oppose pens to weapons, solidarity and courage to intimidation and violence, knowledge and love to ignorance and hatred.

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Those despicable murderers succeeded in killing talented men, yes, but they failed at breaking us down. We will rise again. Journalists will never be muzzled. Changed by this atrocity, and yet the same, they will keep on doing their jobs, so paramount for democracy. French author Beaumarchais said “I quickly laugh at everything, for fear of having to cry”. Tonight I cry for this tragic loss of lives and talents, but tomorrow I’ll be strong again, and I will write again, I will seek to oppose knowledge to ignorance, because only through knowledge will we prevail against violence. The pen will always be mightier than the sword.

We will not be silenced.

[1] When I first wrote this article, the names of the other victims hadn’t been announced. They are Mustapha Ourad, Bernard Maris, Michel Renaud, Franck Brinsolaro, Ahmed Merabet, Frédéric Boisseau et Elsa Cayat.