Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Social Network of Collections of Curiosities

One of the most fascinating aspects of early modern collections of curiosities is the network of people involved in them, including collectors and their associates and agents of various sorts (donors, couriers, etc.), as well as those who visited and used collections. These collections touched a number of intersecting networks involving travellers, antiquaries, merchants, natural philosophers, and anyone interested in new knowledge. The Royal Society of London, for example, had its own collection or "repository," to which members and associates contributed, sometimes making presentations to the Society about their contributed object, and sometimes publishing about it in their Philosophical Transactions. These contributions came from across England, Europe, and beyond. Digital resources present exciting possibilities for analysis of the social networks of collections and collectors. The underlying data structure of the Digital Ark is designed to capture information about the people involved in one way or another with collections of curiosities and to track and analyze the nature of these relationships. But what if we could link resources like this with others that contain content related other cites and forms of networking and exchange in the early modern period?  A recently published article based on the Digital Ark explores this question:

Abstract: Networked knowledge has long been a desired but elusive desideratum of the digital humanities. This article argues the desirability and feasibility of linking person-entity references between a well defined and closely related set of digital projects related to early modern knowledge networks. 

Here is a link to the full article in Scholarly and Research Communication.

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