• (hack)session proposal: data seeks skills

    I’m an old school archival historian flirting with the digital side like a drunk in a bar – ie. without any skill set to speak of. So here goes with my pick up line …

    I’m interested in academic networks in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As we know, academic careers are highly mobile, but traditional archives tend to lock such individuals in national frames of reference.

    I’ll bring with me a pretty messy set of excel files that detail the career trajectories of professors at the universities of Cape Town, Manchester, Sydney, and Toronto in the period 1850-1939. ¬†They include information about the place of birth, study, and work of about 400 individuals. I had a pretty amateur stab at qualitative analysis here¬†Pietsch – ‘Wandering Scholars’ JHG (2010)

    I’d like to learn more about ways that some of the data I’ve gathered could be visualised. It’s probably not detailed enough to do much with networks, but does tell us about movement between different institutions.

    It could all end badly, but whaddyasay?


  1. Oooh, Oooooh, I’m excited by this! I want to do something very similar with African American intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s. They were highly mobile. I want to visualize both their geographic mobility and their relationship networks (not necessarily on the same map). I’ve asked a few geographers and techies for suggestions, but so far haven’t gotten very far.

    I’ve been saving every address I come across in Google Earth, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten at this point.

  2. Patrick MJ says:

    I’m in! Might be a great chance to try Google Refine and maybe Recollections

  3. Katrina says:

    Laura Cruz at Western Carolina U. has been doing something like this, using GIS to map the trajectories of intellectuals and other people in an earlier period. She gave a great demo at the FEEGI conference in 2010. I’m not sure if she has a website of it, but she might be willing to share her experiences.

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