I can present for discussion a recent attempt at Colgate to apply the concepts and technology of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to data in the Humanities. We use NodeXL (Hansen et al, 2011), a relatively recent addition to SNA software, remarkable by is simplicity of user interface, based on MS Excel. While not as powerful as, e.g., Pajek (De Nooy et al. 2011), NodeXL is best suited for introductory projects because the base of competent Excel users is huge, and any such user needs only conceptual foundations in SNA and no new software skills to start experimentation. This is not to belittle the intellectual challenge of acquiring such foundations, but the learning curve to initial competence is short and relatively painless: many interesting concepts and almost no drudgery.
So what I would do is briefly present the concepts and illustrate on simple examples; describe the pedagogical materials for learning and practicing those concepts; and present two humanities projects currently underway at Colgate and one project outside Colgate that I’m involved in.
Much of this has been supported by Colgate’s Faculty Development Council.
De Nooy, Wouter, et al. (2011). Exploratory Social Network Analysis with Pajek. Cambridge University Press.
Hansen, Derek, Ben Shneiderman and Marc Smith (2011). Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World, Elsevier/Morgan-Kaufman.