Happy New Year HASTAC!
I wanted to let the HASTAC community know about an interesting project I'm currently involved with here at UCSB, along with some other HASTAC members- Anne Cong-Huyen, and Eric Chuk. RoSE, or Research-oriented Social Environment is a culmination of work under the Transliteracies Project, a project dedicated to studying the changing nature of online reading. With RoSE, we specifically wanted to use the model of a social network (RoSE is an update acronym from ProSE, or Professional Social Environment) in order to explore the relationships between people and documents. As it's being developed, RoSE would offer a researcher an access-point into a new and different paradigm for approaching their research. Within the system, RoSE keeps a profile of authors, scholars, academics, critics, editors, publishers in a way similar to something like Acaedmia.edu with the addition of profiles not limited to living people. Therefore, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Marx would have their own profile, next to your own.
What RoSE hopes to make visible is the network between people and documents, so that a researcher wanting an overview of, for instance, the Dada movement, would see not only who penned, edited, and published the manifesto, but who was influenced by it, who critiqued it and in which documents, who reacted to it, who wrote books or dissertations on it, etc. Even more, RoSE would be able to show an evolving pattern of relationships. By focusing particularly on, for example, Ezra Pound, one could observe the radical difference between on the one hand, the people he was involved with in his younger days (Eliot, Yeats, Wyndham Lewis) as well as the documents he participated in producing (i.e. publishing his own poems, editing Eliot's "the Waste Land," and translating chinese poetry), and on the other, his embrace of Italian Fascism in his later days. In the latter case, his "social network would involve Benito Mussolini as a "freind." As Alan Liu, the head of the project, writes in his description, "people doing research would thus be able to see, and move, through the dense topographies and histories of knowledgeto say, in essence, 'aha! Thats how that thought-stream started and who/what the major players are. Bring me back to that point in the combined document-social graphto that particular interaction of a person with a documentso I can drill down.'"
We're currently in the middle of developing a workable model of what the system would be capable of performing. If you're interested, click on the links above and explore the description in full detail. Also, check out the visualizations that we've come up with that actually use data within the RoSE system to model networks between people and documents. And of course, we'd love to hear what you think.