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Dear all,

This workshop might be of interest to some member of this list, 
particularly those living in (or close to) the Netherlands.

Kind regrads,

Vincent Traag

*** Apologies for multiple postings ***

Workshop: Complexity in the Digital Humanities

Date:     7 November

Location: Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Organised by the e-Humanities Group, Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam 
Supported by the KNOWeSCAPE COST action (

Complexity pervades all sciences, and will play a pivotal role in twenty 
first century science. The fundamental idea is that we cannot understand 
a subject through its microscopic constituents, but only through their 
interactions. In recent times, this approach has been ascending in the 
humanities because of the increasing availability of large amounts of 
digitised data. These range from large corpora of digitised texts, such 
as the Google Books corpus to online services such as Twitter and 
Facebook. Moreover, historical archives are being opened up through 
digitisation, drawing historians into the world of complexity. These 
developments offer many new possibilities, but also many computational 
and conceptional challenges. This workshop will reflect on the role of 
complexity in the digital humanities, and it will cover a broad range of 

Keynote Speakers:
* Marcel Ausloos is professor emeritus in statistical physics from the 
University of Liège (Belgium). He has authored over 350 papers in 
various fields of statistical physics. Over the years, Ausloos applied 
methods from physics to fields of the social sciences and humanities, 
ranging from language evolution to financial market crashes.

* Diego Garlaschelli completed his PhD in physics at the University of 
Siena (Italy) in 2005, after which he held various positions in Siena 
(Italy), Oxford (UK) and Pisa (Italy). Since 2011 he is assistant 
professor at the Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics in Leiden 
(NL) and an associate fellow at the CABDyN Complexity Center in Oxford 
(UK). His research focuses on complex networks, human behaviour and 

* Stefan Dormans studied Human Geography at the University of Nijmegen. 
He obtained his PhD at the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2007, which 
entailed a narrative analysis of urban tales from two medium-sized Dutch 
cities. After this, Dormans worked at the Virtual Knowledge Studio for 
the Humanities and Social Sciences (VKS) and as an Assistant Professor 
at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Currently, he works as Programme 
Development Officer at the ICR department of the Nijmegen School of 

The workshop is open to all who are interested. There is no fee, but 
seating is limited so your are kindly requested to register in advance 
by sending a mail to Anja de Haas ([log in to unmask]).

Vincent Traag, KITLV, Leiden & e-Humanities, Amsterdam
Jeanette Haagsma, e-Humanities, Amsterdam

For details and updates, please visit

Preliminary Program
09:45---10:00    Coffee
10:00---10:15    Welcome
10:15---11:00    Keynote: Marcel Ausloos
                Measuring complexity in texts

Abstract: A nonlinear dynamics approach can be used in order to quantify 
complexity in written texts. As a first step,  a one-dimensional system 
is examined:  two written texts by one author (L. Carroll) are 
considered, together with one translation, into an artificial language, 
i.e. esperanto. They are mapped into time series. Their corresponding 
shuffled  versions are used for obtaining a ''base line''.  Two 
different  one-dimensional time series are investigated:  (i) one   
based on  word lengths (LTS), (ii) the other on word frequencies (FTS). 
It is shown that the generalized Hurst exponent and the  derived  
multifractal functions  of the original and translated texts  show 
marked differences. The original "texts"  have some skewed structure, - 
in contrast to  a mere parabola for shuffled texts. Moreover, the 
esperanto text has more extreme values. This suggests cascade 
model-like, with multiscale  time asymmetric features as finally written 
texts.  A discussion of the difference and complementarity of mapping 
into a LTS or FTS is presented.

11:00---12:00    Session 1 -- Literature & Music
12:00---13:15    Lunch
13:15---14:00    Keynote: Diego Garlaschelli
                Reconciling long-term cultural diversity and short-term 
collective social behavior

Abstract: An outstanding open problem is whether collective social 
phenomena occurring over short timescales can systematically reduce 
cultural heterogeneity in the long run, and whether offline and online 
human interactions contribute differently to the process. Theoretical 
models suggest that short-term collective behavior and long-term 
cultural diversity are mutually excluding, since they require very 
different levels of social influence. The latter jointly depends on two 
factors: the topology of the underlying social network and the overlap 
between individuals in multidimensional cultural space. However, while 
the empirical properties of social networks are intensively studied, 
little is known about the large-scale organization of real societies in 
cultural space, so that random input specifications are necessarily used 
in models. Here we use a large dataset to perform a high-dimensional 
analysis of the scientific beliefs of thousands of Europeans. We find 
that interopinion correlations determine a nontrivial ultrametric 
hierarchy of individuals in cultural space. When empirical data are used 
as inputs in models, ultrametricity has strong and counterintuitive 
effects. On short timescales, it facilitates a symmetry-breaking phase 
transition triggering coordinated social behavior. On long timescales, 
it suppresses cultural convergence by restricting it within disjoint 
groups. Moreover, ultrametricity implies that these results are 
surprisingly robust to modifications of the dynamical rules considered. 
Thus the empirical distribution of individuals in cultural space appears 
to systematically optimize the coexistence of short-term collective 
behavior and long-term cultural diversity, which can be realized 
simultaneously for the same moderate level of mutual influence in a 
diverse range of online and offline settings.

14:00---15:00    Session 2 -- Big Data
15:00---15:15    Coffee
15:15---16:00    Keynote: Stefan Dormans

16:00---16:15    Discussion & closing
16:15---17:00    Drinks

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