Mapping Communication

Following the last two posts, I thought it would be useful to gather together some of the links I have been sent (as replies on the blog, on twitter, on facebook, and by email; I’m struggling to stay on top of my own communication network). They all offer useful tools on the mapping of news communication, or the compiling of data that could assist in mapping. The order given here is not significant …

First ORBIS, a study of transport and communication networks in the Roman Empire:

As the site observes: “Conventional maps that represent this world as it appears from space signally fail to capture the severe environmental constraints that governed the flows of people, goods and information. Cost, rather than distance, is the principal determinant of connectivity.”

Secondly, and one I should have mentioned before, is the Warwick project on translation, which can be found at the Rensaissance Cultural Crossroads site:

As the website says: “Translated works constituted crossroads where languages and cultures met and intersected, enabling nations and individuals to communicate, to exchange ideas, and to advance social and political movements which thus transcended national boundaries. Nowhere was this more true than in Britain, where in the years 1473 to 1640 over four thousand translations were printed, involving almost thirty languages, over one thousand translators, and roughly twelve hundred authors.” The catalogue allows complex searches. Particularly useful is the genre-based search feature, though at the moment the various genres of news cannot be aggregated. It’s a shame it finishes in 1640.

Sienna Latham has recently completed a master’s thesis on women and chymistry (or early-modern alchemy); in this blog entry she discusses data visualisation, and includes some social-network mapping:

Ruth Ahnert at Queen Mary, University of London, also has some fascinating work forthcoming on Catholic manuscript networks in the sixteenth century, which also involves sophisticated software.

Matt Symonds, at CELL, Queen Mary, University of London, posted on youtube a magnificent video showing the movement of political boundaries in Europe by time-lapse. It’s disappeared, but perhaps he can be persuaded to make it reappear.

There is a magnificent project on Mapping the Republic of Letters (1500-1800), which includes some very nifty visualisation software:

As the website says: “Forged in the humanist culture of learning that promoted the ancient ideal of the republic as the place for free and continuous exchange of knowledge, the Republic of Letters was simultaneously an imagined community (a scholar’s utopia where differences, in theory, would not matter), an information network, and a dynamic platform from which a wide variety of intellectual projects – many of them with important ramifications for society, politics, and religion – were proposed, vetted, and executed.”

More loosely linked, there is an incipient project at the Imagining History project at Queen’s University Belfast on mapping the reception of the Middle English prose Brut from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries:

There’s one more I can’t lay my hands on right now, but I’ll post it when I do.


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About joadraymond

English Professor at the University of East Anglia, and director of the News Networks in Early Modern Europe project. I have written books about news, pamphleteering and angels in early modern Britain, and I am currently editing Milton's defences.

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