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GCDH International Summer School 2014 – Visual Analysis with Digital Tools

28 July – 1 August 2014, University of Göttingen, Germany Organised by the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities (GCDH)

Attention! The Summer School is now over, it was a summery week packed with workshops and social activities. Thanks to all the 42 participants and to everyone that helped! This very page served the purpose of getting the word out and is thus discontinued. Results and impressions can be obtained via Twitter (#GCDHSummerSchool).


(F.F., 7 Aug 2014)


The Digital Humanities enhance the methods of traditional research in the humanities through automated data acquisition and processing. Visualisations can play a central role in analysing such data. This Summer School will address a set of fundamental problems, such as requirements for scientific visualisation or visual strategies. The main goal, however, is to focus on the practical side to enable the participants to tackle specific visualisation problems in order to advance their own research. The natural sciences have a long tradition of interest in visualisation methods (just compare magazines like "Science" or "Nature" to any magazine with a humanities background). The humanities are catching up, though, and starting to apply visualisation techniques to answer their own research questions. A set of tools has emerged in recent years and has introduced a number of visualisation practices into the humanities. Charts, graphics, 3D visualisations or "Maps, Graphs, Trees" (to quote the title of a well-known recent book on the subject), should not only illustrate, but also create new knowledge. Only then can we call visualisations a true method in the Digital Humanities. Or, to paraphrase Edward Tufte, visualisations should not be implemented for their own sake, but should be used to address "thinking tasks" as a tool for new insights.


The Summer School will take place in the old university town of Göttingen, Germany, from 28 July to 1 August 2014. We are inviting up to 40 students (MA and PhD level). There will be two separate strands:

1. Visual Network Analysis with VennMaker and Gephi

From its very beginning in the 1930s network analysis made use of visualisations. Whereas in classical network research visualisations stood at the end of the analysis, visual network research puts visualisations into the centre of the data generation process. They can be used either for a structural analysis or as an instrument of data collection and validation of data. Here, the research participants are involved in the structural development of their network, as (co-)producers and analysts of their own network images, be that in scientific or in consultant contexts.

This hands-on workshop introduces the digital tools of VennMaker and Gephi within an integrated visual network research agenda. The participants will learn how to conduct a visual network research using these different tools.

In the first part of the workshop an overview of social network analysis and visual network research will be given. The second part shows how to combine qualitative and quantitative network analysis (triangulation) with the software VennMaker. The participants learn how to configure so-called digital network maps. Digital network maps allow collecting network data on a visual level. In short exercises the participants will conduct first visual analyses of this data and communicate their findings. Then we will show how the collected network data can be exported to other tools, e.g. Gephi. The third part of the workshop will introduce to the software Gephi. Gephi is a free interactive visualization and exploration platform for networks, complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs and offers additional features for the visual analysis of social networks. Again, short exercises will give the opportunity for further practice and discussion of the results.

After a brief introduction of the tools, participants will learn how to use both, the Gephi tool and VennMaker, and how to develop an appropriate research question, collect and visualise network data and 'read' and discuss the resulting network visualisations. For the VennMaker the participants should bring their own laptop with the latest Java version installed. The software will be provided. Please download the latest version of Gephi before the workshop.

The workshop will be held by Michael Kronenwett and Martin Stark. Michael Kronenwett is an expert in Social Network Analysis (SNA) and has a record of many years of teaching in the field, especially at the infamous Trier Summer School. He is the sole shareholder and managing director of Kronenwett & Adolphs, a company aiming at making SNA and its applications available for a wide clientele. He also played a pivotal role in the development of the VennMaker software that can be used for communicative data collection and validation of personal networks as well as for visualising inner and outer relationships in work groups, staff or projects, or in client-centered advisory services. Martin Stark is a research associate at the University of Hamburg and, as such, focusses on the social and economic history of the 19th and 20th century and, generally, the application of SNA in the historical sciences. He co-invented and developed the VennMaker and teaches regularly at the Trier Summer School.

2. 3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage: Geometry Acquisition and Processing

This strand will focus on methods for documenting the three-dimensional shape of Cultural Heritage artifacts such as sculptures, plaster figurines, etc. and is aimed at students of archaeology, (art) history and related disciplines. The course will first refresh some basic geometric knowledge and give an introduction to 3D acquisition methods (laser scanning and photogrammetry), also explaining the technical background with concepts like 'sampling density', depth images and triangle mesh representations. This is complemented by hands-on practice to enable the participants to capture 3D shapes using their own (preferably good) photo camera, using it in fact as a 3D scanner; but we will also use state-of-the-art equipment and software in the 3D modeling field (Breuckmann/AICON). Furthermore, we will touch upon advanced topics such as the 'fitness for purpose' of 3D models, sustainable documentation of 3D measurement and processing events using CRMdig (a specialization of CIDOC CRM), as well as the creation of synthetic images and illustrations using the Blender package, also highlighting topics for ongoing research such as 'intellectual transparency' and visualizing uncertainty.

The workshop will be held by Sven Havemann and Dirk Rieke-Zapp. Sven Havemann is a founding member of the Institute of Computer Graphics and Knowledge Visualisation at Graz University of Technology. His primary research interests are geometric modeling and shape semantics, and he was strand leader for 3D modeling and visualization in the EU-FP7 IP 3D-COFORMDirk Rieke-Zapp is responsible business unit manager for Arts & Cultural Heritage at Breuckmann GmbH in Meersburg, a subsidiary of AICON 3D Systems GmbH. He has profound knowledge and expertise regarding projects in the cultural heritage domain. Until recently, he taught Geomatics at the University of Bern and, from 2009 to 2012, represented Switzerland at the International Committee for Documentation of Cultural Heritage (CIPA). In addition, he holds the position as chairman of working group V/5 of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) and is an active member of the international editorial board of The Photogrammetric Record.

Both workshops will take place in parallel, from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Applicants need to indicate which one they are interested in. An appropriate number of ECTS credits can be obtained.

Afternoon Programme

The afternoons will be reserved for the presentation of Digital Humanities projects and small workshops to acquaint the participants with specific use-cases to give them examples and inspiration to follow their own projects (e.g., introduction to the GeoBrowser, to the Processing development environment, to data visualisation with R, and to visualisation aspects of the first 3D model of a synapse by members of the Rizzoli Lab). The programme is complemented by an evening keynote held by an expert in the Visual Analytics field, Prof. Dr. Daniel Keim, Chair for Data Analysis and Visualisation at the University of Constance.

Update: Have a look at the general schedule here (PDF; 46 kB).


We are inviting up to 40 international participants (MA and PhD students). Up to 20 students can be registered for each one of the two strands. The first one is designed for those students of the humanities and social sciences who work with text-based data. The second strand is aiming at archaeologists and (art) historians or, more generally, at scholars who deal with objects and object data.

Terms and conditions

The registration fee for accepted applicants is 80 Euros and includes costs for tuition (workshops + lectures) and lunches in the refectory. We provide free accommodation in near-by hostels (mostly dormitory-style) or holiday homes; if you prefer to stay in a hotel, we can assist you with the reservation, but you will have to cover the costs yourself (see list of hotels here). Fees do not include travel costs, but you can apply for a travel grant if such funds are not available from your institution.

Once your application is accepted you can officially register. We ask that you pay the registration fee of 80 Euros on the first day of the Summer School.

What to bring

Given the hands-on character of the Summer School, it is essential to bring your own laptop. (Participants of the 3D strand are also asked to bring their own cameras. Their laptop should be able to render simple objects with the free and open-source 3D computer graphics software Blender.) The installation of required (free) software will be communicated in a timely manner and supported by us throughout the entire Summer School.


Update: Deadline passed on 30 April. Selection process is ongoing. Applicants will be notified by 15 May 2014.

Your application should include:

  • a cover letter indicating which strand you're interested in ("Analysing Words and Networks with ConText" or "3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage"),
  • a short CV (1 page max.),
  • a letter of motivation (2 pages max.), including an explanation as to why you would like to participate, what previous knowledge you have and what your expectations are; please also tell us about your current project if you have one.

Please e-mail your application as one integral PDF file to the coordinator of the Summer School, Frank Fischer (frank.fischerzentr.uni-goettingende). Deadline for applications is 30 April 2014. You will be notified on your application status until 15 May 2014.

For further information or in case of any questions, please don't hesitate to contact our organisational team:


© for the photo: Stabsstelle Öffentlichkeitsarbeit,
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen