Category Archives: Reviews

Franco-Fil: a “how-to” guide to French resources for German researchers

In our virtual research world, online resources on methodology seem infinite. Taking a tour on Franco-Fil: Informationssuche und wissenschaftliche Ressourcen zu Frankreich, one fully appreciates how precious such a blog was for (budding) researchers.

Primarily aimed at German speakers, this blog was set up by the Deutsches Historisches Institut of Paris. Written by a team of librarian and researchers under the supervision of Mareike König, this blog reviews various resources available such as digital libraries, archives, and provides useful methodological tips about historical research in and about France.

Franco-Fil: Informationssuche und wissenschaftliche Ressourcen zu Frankreich © DHI Paris
Franco-Fil: Informationssuche und wissenschaftliche Ressourcen zu Frankreich © DHI Paris

With an emphasis on virtual libraries, this blog constitutes an open window towards resources for medieval, early modern and modern history.

The “Mittwochtipp” section presents each week (wednesday) a tool, institution or archive body, mostly highlighting digital resources that might not have been advertised otherwise.  There are 60 Mittwochtipps so far, presenting resources on 19th century schoolbooks, history of immigration in France, travel literature, and many more.

Finally, a section on bibliographies (articles, books, databases, newspapers…) constitutes a useful tool, especially for young researchers newly arrived in the French system, with introductions and tips on how to constitute one’s own bibliography and corpus with the help of online tools, how and where to find iconographic sources, or how to understand and use the catalogues of French universities’ libraries.

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