Seminar dates, themes, schedules, locations, suggested reading and invited speakers are detailed below. Alternatively, you can download the seminar roadmap.

27.02.14 // Inaugural session
14:00-17:30 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
Invited speaker: Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam)

The inaugural session will introduce the recent technological and epistemological transition entailed by the advent of digital mapping tools (DMTs) in the social sciences. Richard Rogers, Director of the Digital Methods Initiative at University of Amsterdam will present how DMTs can be mobilized to explore social complexity and present a broad vision of the development of the tools now used in the cartography of information–both in research and and the private sector. Organizational aspects of the seminar will also be addressed, such as allocating literature presentations and inquiring about participants that would like to present their work during the seminar.

Suggested reading

  • Rogers, R., (2013), Digital methods. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

06.03.14 // Mapping science & technology through structured data
14:00-17:30 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
Invited speaker: Jean-Philippe Cointet (INRA)

Scientometrics has pioneered the use of structured data to analyse the social and cognitive dynamics of science and technology. This has enabled the development of tools and methodological insights that are relevant for researchers using DMTs to study other social phenomena. Constructing maps of scientific knowledge production requires several steps, namely data extraction, entity selection (i.e. co-word, co-author, and co-citation analysis), normalisation, filtering, and finally visualisation (Börner, 2010). This analytical framework has recently been applied to patenting activity (Leydesforff, 2011 ; Rafols, 2010 ; Schoen, 2012). It has also been extended to the plotting of heterogeneous networks. The session will discuss the process of mapping scientific or technological data and show how the choice of thresholds, algorithms, layouts and scale affects interpretation.

Texts to discuss

  • Rafols, I., Porter, A.L., & Leydesdorff, L. (2010). Science overlay maps: A new tool for research policy and library management. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(9), 1871-87. (link)
  • Pontille, D., & Torny, D. (2013). La manufacture de l’évaluation scientifique. Réseaux, 177(1), 23–61. doi:10.3917/res.177.0023 (download)

Suggested reading

  • Chavalarias, D., & Cointet, J.-P. (2013). Phylomemetic Patterns in Science Evolution—The Rise and Fall of Scientific Fields. PloS ONE, 8(2), e54847. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054847 (link)
  • Mayer, K. (2011). Scientific images? How touching! Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, 7(1), 29 – 45. (link)
  • Rip, A. (1997). Qualitative conditions of scientometrics: The new challenges. Scientometrics, 38(1), 7–26. doi:10.1007/ BF02461120 (download)

27.03.14 // Digitized archives and distant reading
14:30-18:00 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
Invited speaker: Claire Lemercier (Sciences Po)

The growing digitization of our textual and literary heritage has convinced many academics and observers of higher education that we are currently experiencing a renaissance in the Humanities (Pannapacker, 2009). National funding agencies, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in the U.S., are allocating increasing resources to develop data mining, data storage and language processing techniques to support this movement. Some scholars argue that this mass of data is profoundly changing the methodological toolbox of a field whose scholarship is traditionally based on close reading and interpretation of texts (Moretti, 2013). Digitization has rendered novels, plays, poems and historical texts open to forms of statistical analysis and visualization methods previously unavailable to these objects. As a result, this “digital turn” is creating a vivid debate within the Humanities about the effects that the use of algorithms might have on the interpretation, understanding and teaching of literature and history. There is a palpable tension on university campuses of how to respond as outside disciplines, such as evolutionary dynamics, systems and artificial intelligence, gain new ports of entry into the traditional territory of the Humanities (Michel, 2010 ; Diski, 2011). This session will explore the paths forward in this debate.

Texts to discuss

  • Cinquin, S. (2011), Utiliser la lexicométrie en histoire (1) : panorama historiographique, Devenir historien-ne. (link).
  • Diski, J. (2011). Short Cuts. London Review of Books. (link).
  • Fitzpatrick, K., Galloway, A.R. & English, J.F. (2013), Franco Moretti’s “Distant Reading”: A Symposium, Los Angeles Review of Books. (link).
  • Jockers, M. (2012). Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome, Presentation at DH2012 Hamburg. (link.)
  • Mayaffre, D. (2010), Vers une herméneutique matérielle numérique. Corpus textuels, Logométrie et Langage politique, manuscrit pour l’habilitation à diriger des recherches, Université de Nice. (full link / discussed extracts link).
  • Michel, J.-B., et al. (2011). Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books. Science, 331(6014), 176–182. (download).

Suggested reading

  • Marche, S. (2012). Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities. LA Review of Books. (link)
  • Moretti, F. (2000). Conjectures on World Literature. New Left Review, (1), 54–68. (link)
  • Moretti, F. (2013). Distant Reading. London: Verso.
  • Selisker, S. (2012). In Defense of Data: Responses to Stephen Marche’s “Literature is not Data”. LA Review of Books. (link)

10.04.14 // Natively digital data mapping
14:30-18:00 @ ENSCI Salle Bleue (4th floor)
Invited speaker: Nortje Marres (Goldsmiths University)

Thirty years ago, the democratization of IT radically changed the way we access, generate and manage information. The Internet has amplified and accelerated this phenomenon, producing ever increasing amounts of “natively digital data” (Rogers, 2013). This has fostered numerous studies of online culture, where researchers have turned to user-populated platforms such as Twitter to detect the presence and associative practices of novel communities, or to sites such as Wikipedia where recent studies compare the controversality of topics on different language sections of the online encyclopedia (Yasseri, 2012). Beyond these specific studies of web-based-media use, there are broader questions about what exactly are we studying when we analyze hyperlinks, online forums, websites, etc.? Furthermore, what are we doing when we access information through ranking systems provided by search engine algorithms (e.g. PageRank) that constantly evolve to take into account a user’s prior searches? The session aims to develop a reflexive understanding of using natively digital data as a resource for research.

Texts to discuss

  • Marres, N., & Weltevrede, E. (2013). Scraping the Social? Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(3), 313–335. doi:10.1080/17530350.2013.772070 (link)
  • Kelty, C. (2014). The Fog of Freedom, in Gillespie, T., Boczkowski, P. & Foot, K., (eds.). Media technologies, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (video)
  • Yasseri, T., Sumi, R., Rung, A., Kornai, A., & Kertész, J. (2012). Dynamics of Conflicts in Wikipedia. PloS ONE, 7(6), e38869. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038869 (link)

Suggested reading

  • Diminescu, D. (2012). Introduction: Digital methods for the exploration, analysis and mapping of e-diasporas. Social Science Information, 51(4), 451–458. doi:10.1177/0539018412456918 (download)

17.04.14 // Transformative interactions: web effects on social dynamics
14:00-17:45 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
Invited speaker: David Chavalarias (ISC-PIF) & Vincent Lepinay (Sciences Po)

This seminar will address a critical question in the application of digital methods for social science research. The web is not merely a new resource that, through the treatment of large collections of data, lets us falsify or verify long- held assumptions about the relationships between institutional culture, individual behavior and other key concepts in the social sciences. The web itself is changing the way institutions function (such as how news is produced [Bozkowski, 2009] or science gets published [Evans, 2008]), as well as how individuals interact (social networking sites offer a new forms of the presentation of self [Goffman, 1959 ; Menaker, 2013], and commentary on blogs and news sites have spaw- ned new norms in communication). What we propose to address in this seminar is not a methodological question, but an epistemological question. How does the internet itself shape social phenomenon and require new theorizing about our objects of study? We will look at examples in the production of science and the news, and the treatment of data from Facebook and blog communities.

Texts to discuss

  • Boczkowski, P. J. (2009). Technology, Monitoring, and Imitation in Contemporary News Work. Communication, Culture & Critique, 2(1), 39–59. doi:10.1111/j.1753-9137.2008.01028.x (download)
  • Evans, J. A. (2008). Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship. Science, 321(5887), 395–399. doi:10.1126/science.1150473 (download)
  • Gillespie, T. (2014). The Relevance of Algorithms, in Gillespie, T., Boczkowski, P. & Foot, K., (eds.). Media technologies, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (link)
  • Menaker, D. (2013). Taking Our Selfies Seriously. The New York Times. (link)

Suggested reading

  • Goffman, E., (1959), The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin Books.

15.05.14 // Visualizing complexity
14:30-18:00 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
Invited speaker: Pedro Miguel Cruz (University of Coimbra)

Early data visualizations in science ordered information in tree-like representations to address issues of classification and genealogy. The Encyclopédie’s Systême figuré des connaissances humaines and Darwin’s Tree of life are classical examples of this first period of data visualization. The recent shift towards issues of organized complexity in scientific inquiry (Weaver, 1948) has changed the practice of visualization, marking a transition from trees to networks. Despite a rich stream of research, network visualization still lacks a basic grammar of standardized graphic presentation as that advocated by Willard Brinton (Brinton, 1939) and Jacques Bertin (Bertin, 1999). The session will address visualizing complexity from a graphical perspective, stressing the importance of information design and visual standards for improved perception and understanding of complex phenomena.

Texts to discuss

  • Healy, K. & Moody, J. (forthcoming), Data Visualization in Sociology. Anual Review of Sociology. (link)

Suggested reading

  • Bertin, J. (1999). Sémiologie graphique les diagrammes, les réseaux, les cartes. Paris: Ed. de l’EHESS.
  • Desrosières, A. (2008). Analyse des Données et Sciences Humaines: Comment Cartographier le Monde Social. Journ@l Électronique d’Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique, 4(2), 11-18. (link)
  • Lima, M. (2011). Visual complexity: mapping patterns of information. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
  • Tufte, E. R. (2001). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (2nd edition.). Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.

05.06.14 // Spatializing Data
14:00-17:30 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
Invited speaker: Jacques Lévy (EPFL)

In addition to the problem of how to graphically treat and visualize data (dealt with in the previous session), are a series of underlying questions about the metaphors, metonyms and metrics we deploy to translate the digital into the spatial (Levy, 2012). When we invoke digital “mapping” tools, or talk about “spatializing” our networks through tools such as Gephi, we are making loose references to practices and techniques of the field of cartography. The session will unpack the relationship between web cartography and traditional cartography by taking a long historical view of the evolution of the field and the uses (navigational, aesthetic, conquest) of its objects (Farinelli, 2009). We will also think through the epistemological commitments entailed in describing the activity of digital analysis and representation as “mapping” (November et al., 2010). What do we gain and lose by adhering to this term?

Texts to discuss

  • Ghitalla, F. (2013). Des boussoles et des territoires. L’Atelier de Cartographie. (link)

Suggested reading

  • Lévy, J. (2012). A Cartographic Turn? Revue Électronique des Sciences Humaines et Sociales. (link)

19.06.14 // Activism, journalism, decision-making: DMTs in practice
14:30-18:00 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot Cancelled
Invited speaker: Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou (Regards Citoyens) & Sylvain Parasie (LATTS)

The advent of the “open data” movement has given new leverage to the press and civic activists to expose corruption and abuses of power by public actors (Schmidlin, 2012 ; Greenwald, 2013). What can these practices tell us about the influence of data on democracy and the role of civil society in mobilizing data to speak “truth to power”? Is the internet delivering on its promise of providing a pragmatic space for public debate? How do we classify the rise in groups generating software tools, platforms and hacks that undermine or transplant traditional powers of the state (Wikileaks and Anonymous)? On the flip side, there is also a question of how institutional powers are making use of data, particularly Big Data, to increase their influence. How does access to ever increasing amounts of information about individual behavior change the way political campaigns see voters and how marketing firms target consumers (Issenberg, 2013)? How do social scientists position their own map making activities within this mixed terrain? And what can the social sciences learn from the methods of these institutions while keeping the requisite distance to analyze their impact on our concepts of citizenship, participation, privacy and persuasion?

Texts to discuss

  • Issenberg, S. (2012). How Obama Used Big Data to Rally Voters. MIT Technology Review. (link)
  • Obar, J. A., Zube, P., & Lampe, C. (2012). Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of How Advocacy Groups in the United States Perceive and Use Social Media as Tools for Facilitating Civic Engagement and Collective Action. Journal of Information Policy, 2(0). (link)
  • Schmidli, J., M Stoll et T. Plattner, (2012, November 25). Le copinage gangrène les commandes fédérales. La Matin. (link)

26.06.14-27.06.14 // BarCamp
09:30-18:30 @ ENSCI Espace Viénot
With the participation of CorTexT (IFRIS) and medialab (Sciences Po) researcher teams

Rather than closing the seminar with a conference, the final session will be a two-day participatory workshop event where data, tools and methods are collectively explored with seminar participants. This final session will also be open to the public. The workshop takes its inspiration from BarCamp events. Though loosely defined, these events are based on two fundamental principles: no one is a spectator (everyone participates through their different forms of expertise; i.e. technical or analytical skills) and results are produced and shared at the end of the event. A BarCamp usually kicks off with a presentation of participants (name, affiliation, interests) and then relies on the self-organizing capacity of participants to form groups and pursue a given project. In this case, our interest lies in how participants will use various sources of data and DMTs to improve our knowledge of a given social phenomenon. Participants can choose to work with data sets that will be provided by organizers or build their own datasets. They are free in their choice of tools, though the organizer’s will provide extensive technical support for Gephi and the CorTexT Manager. Throughout the two-day event, participants can schedule “special sessions” on the sessions grid to address specific points. The sharing of information is encouraged through mailing lists, shared notepads (i.e. EtherPad) and the seminar’s website in an effort to minimize “off-the-record” information exchange that characterizes invite-only events. Indeed, participant’s productions will be accessible online. This practise-oriented event will also provide informal feedback on the seminar and help plan future steps.