While already well-known and applied in the realm of Digital Humanities, not every professional in need of applying them are familiar with tools for network analysis. This may pose the risk of not exploiting these tools to the best of their potentialities.
Nevertheless, as exemplified by a post by Ulrike Wuttke for OpenMethods on the topic (https://openmethods.dariah.eu/2019/02/28/from-hermeneutics-to-data-to-networks-data-extraction-and-network-visualization-of-historical-sources/), network analysis has been playing an increasingly important role especially in historical research, where it can provide added value in terms of data extraction and highlighting of interesting patterns.
The Vistorian (http://vistorian.net), which is part of the open-source Networkcube Project, aims at providing a network analysis tool for digital humanists, especially historians. Its features have been specifically developed along basic principles of “simplicity, privacy, openness and extensibility”, as illustrated in the paper “Understanding the Use of The Vistorian: Complementing Logs with Context Mini-Questionnaires”.
The paper comprises a figure depicting the four types of data visualization – node-link, TimeArcs, matrix, and map with network – which the Vistorian permits in the attempt of mediating between two different instances, the user intent and the usage context, which are often difficult to harmonize and are not always tackled by other network tools.
Thanks to the application and discussion of usage logs and context mini-questionnaires, the Vistorian Project, as advocated in the paper, wishes to meet as better as possible the needs of historians and, more generally, of digital humanists “who have complex questions and data but are not trained to manage this data and use visualizations as exploration tools” (Molinero et al., 2017, par. 4).
Vanessa Serrano Molinero, Benjamin Bach, Catherine Plaisant, Nicole Dufournaud, Jean-Daniel Fekete. Understanding the Use of The Vistorian: Complementing Logs with Context MiniQuestionnaires. Visualization for the Digital Humanities, Oct 2017, Phoenix, United States. ffhal01650259 (https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01650259/document)
Ulrike Wuttke. From Hermeneutics to Data to Networks: Data Extraction and Network Visualization of Historical Sources. OpenMethods, February 2019.
The Networkcube Project: https://networkcube.github.io/vistorian/web/index.html
The Vistorian: https://vistorian.net/
InternetArchive link: https://web.archive.org/web/20200319035758/https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01650259/document