Complexity History. Complexity for History and History for Complexity  (CHCF) Session 1

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Time and Date: 14:15 - 18:00 on 21st Sep 2016

Room: L - Grote Zaal

Chair: Andrea Nanetti

30000 Provenance and Validation from the Humanities to Automatic Acquisition of Semantic Knowledge and Machine Reading for News and Historical Sources Indexing/Summary [abstract]
Abstract: My keynote presents the research project carried out at NTU Singapore in collaboration with Microsoft Research and Microsoft Azure for Research. For the NTU research team the real frontier research in world histories starts when we want to use computers to structure historical information, model historical narratives, simulate theoretical large scale hypotheses, and incentivise world historians to use virtual assistants and/or engage them in teamwork using social media and/or seduce them with immersive spaces to provide new learning and sharing environments, in which new things can emerge and happen: "You do not know which will be the next idea. Just repeating the same things is not enough" (Carlo Rubbia, 1984 Nobel Price in Physics, at Nanyang Technological University on January 19, 2016).
Chin-Yew Lin
30001 Exploiting Context in Cartographic Evolutionary Documents to Extract and Build Linked Spatial-Temporal Datasets [abstract]
Abstract: Millions of historical maps are in digital archives today. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey has created and scanned over 200,000 topographic maps covering a 125-year period. Maps are a form of ?evolutionary visual documents? because they display landscape changes over long periods of time and across large areas. Such documents are of tremendous value because they provide a high-resolution window into the past at a continental scale. Unfortunately, without time-intensive manual digitization scanned maps are unusable for research purposes. Map features, such as wetlands and roads, while readable by humans, are only available as images. This project will develop a set of open-source technologies and tools that allow users to extract map features from a large number of map sheets and track changes of features between map editions in a Geographical Information System. The resulting open-source tools will enable exciting new forms of inquiry in history, demography, economics, sociology, ecology, and other disciplines. The data produced by this project will be made publically available and through case studies integrated with other historical archives. Spatially and temporally linked knowledge covering man-made and natural features over more than 125 years holds enormous potential for the physical and social sciences. The wealth of information contained in these maps is unique, especially for the time before the widespread use of aerial photography. The ability to automatically transform the scanned paper maps stored in large archives into spatio-temporally linked knowledge will create an important resource for social and natural scientists studying global change and other socio-geographic processes that play out over large areas and long periods of time. Publications, software, and datasets for this project will be made available on the project website:
Yao-Yi Chiang
30002 Comparing network models for the evolution of terrestrial connections in Central Italy (1175/1150?500 BC ca) [abstract]
Abstract: The period between the Late Bronze Age and the Archaic Age is a time of changes and developments in the Italian Peninsula which led to the creation of regional ethnic and political groups and to the formation of the first city-states. In the present study, we focus on the Tyrrhenian regions of Latium Vetus and Southern Etruria, analysing the evolution of the network of terrestrial routes as they have been hypothesised by scholars from the archaeological evidence. We want to investigate 1) the mechanisms that shaped past communication infrastructures through time; 2) if they changed or stayed the same during the considered time framework.In particular, in order to understand to what extent the observed results are a consequence of either differences on the spatial distribution of settlements or dissimilarities in the process that generated those networks (cultural and political factors), we design three network models. Each model corresponds to a different hypothesis about the dominant mechanism underlying the creation of new connections. After locating the nodes at the positions inferred from the archaeological record, we start adding links according to a specific criterion. Once we have generated several synthetic versions of the networks, we compare them to the corresponding empirical system in order to determine which model fits the data better and is therefore more likely to resemble the actual forces at work. We find that, in the case of Southern Etruria, the model simulating a simple form of cooperation is able to reproduce with a very good accuracy all the relevant features for all the Ages under study. On the contrary, in Latium Vetus, each model can reproduce some of the features while failing with others, depending on the Age. However, if we add a ?rich get richer? bias to the cooperative model, its performance improves greatly.
Luce Prignano, Francesca Fulminante, Sergi Lozano, Ignacio Morer
30003 Hybridizing historiographies: modelling a blended complexity for history/history for complexity approach to understanding the past. [abstract]
Abstract: What additionalities does a hybrid approach to history for complexity and complexity for history offer to each discipline? Criticism of contemporary approaches to history tend to concentrate on percieved relativism, while the application of complex systems methodologies can be seen to dehumanise our narratives of the past. Both approaches offer risks and opportunities ? here we explore how a blended model might offer additional understanding. We have modelled the historical correspondence network of William Colenso (1811-1899), printer, missionary, explorer, naturalist, and politician of New Zealand?s early colonial period, using the addressee and location-of-writing meta-data from Colenso's letters to construct a co-location correspondence network. This network links recipients of Colenso's letters when he tended to write to them from the same set of locations, revealing several significant communities, and providing a na?ve way to identify themes or topics in the corpus of Colenso's letters. We then draw upon a combined na?ve and informed interpretation of the Colenso letter network, suggesting a model that acknowledges that, in utilizing tools and methods that developed to understand complex systems in history, we re-focus the narrative of human history on empires, civilisations, big states, and cities. Complexity theoretical approaches can prioritise hegemonic discourses and re-marginalise marginalised histories. Our approach, grounded in a people-focussed network, will utilise critical tools of twentieth century historiography, particularly postcolonial theory, feminism, and subaltern discourses, to reassert voices from the margins. Whose history will this hybrid approach foreground?
Kate Hannah,Dion O'Neale
30004 Patterns In Globalization - Viewed through the lens of Trieste [abstract]
Abstract: Globalization is a phenomenon lasting centuries. Contributing factors, including the import and export dynamics of major nations, are many in number and complex in their interactions. This study considers the behavior of one of the worlds 10 largest ports - Trieste - within the Austria-Hungarian empire from the mid 19th century through to the start of World War I (WWI), a time of profound globalization. Trade in the mid 19th century largely followed the British World System; a free world market centered in London and its financial web. However this system was unstable, experiencing a long depression (1873-96), state defaults, and regular financial panics. Challenges from competitors, especially Germany, soon followed, and by the end of the 19th century the trade landscape had shifted, and a new nationalist era ushered in. New boarders appeared, trade restrictions were imposed, and strong cartels limited competition, within the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire as well. The European powers competed for African resources and parted the continent. This age culminated into a denser cluster of wars and deeper crisis, from WWI to the close of WWII in 1945.To understand how trade dynamics might evidence and interact with these various processes, information measures - including Shannon entropy and KL-divergence - were calculated on the distribution of imported and exported tonnages by nation over time and on the balance sheets of the Generali insurance company, the largest Austro-Hungarian insurer, from 1851 to 1910. The next phase of the project will include more detailed analysis, involving data on goods per country and Generali's marine insurance contracts.
Gaetano Dato, Ben Zhu, Simon Carrignon, Anjali Tarun, Evelyn Strombom, Rudi Minxha, Brian Ferguson, Tucker Ely, Philip Pika
30005 Historical Correspondence Networks [abstract]
Abstract: William Colenso (1811-1899) was a printer, missionary, explorer, naturalist, and politician in the early period of the colonisation of New Zealand. We have used the addressee and location-of-writing meta-data from Colenso's letters to construct a co-location correspondence network. The network links recipients of Colenso's letters when he tended to write to them from the same set of locations. The network reveals several significant communities. This suggests that it could provide a naive way to identify themes or topics in the corpus of Colenso's letters. The dual network connects geographic locations where Colenso tended to write to the same particular sets of people. Again, clusters of locations within the network suggest themes in Colenso's work at these different locations. It is also possible to study how the network changes over time. In addition to giving an interesting visualisation of Colenso's correspondence, this gives us a potential way to look at whether themes in the correspondence were more strongly associated with where Colenso was or when he wrote.The construction of the networks is completely agnostic of the content of the letters. We will use digital methods such as text mining, as well as more traditional historical techniques, such as narrative analysis, to compare and contrast themes suggested by the network structure, with those from the content of the letters. We suggest that interesting liminality between naive networks and known historiography might emerge, and that gaps revealed by this mixed methodological approach would create novel opportunities for understanding and contextualising the past.
Dion O’Neale, Kate Hannah