Workshop Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Hands-On Guide on Physical and Digital Data Visualisation of Social Networks in Digital Humanities Applications (123)

Artur Lugmayr 1 , Graham Hay 1
  1. Curtin University, West Perth, WA, Australia

The goal of the workshop is to introduce participants into modern approaches of data visualisation, especially how to understand and interpret complex social networks through digital and physical data visualisation techniques. The workshop will train participants in the creative processes of data visualisation and introduce different approaches. The more practical oriented part of the workshop focuses on practical exercises for 1) digital data visualisation utilizing the Gephi Open Graph software; and 2) introduce the concept of physical data visualisation and it’s potential for more rapid and creative approaches in making data understandable. As a first takeaway, participants will understand the powerful Gephi Open Graph visualisation tool for exploring social networks (, and how it can be applied in their practical challenges in Digital Humanities research. Participants will also understand the necessity of applying creative thinking within the visualisation process. Therefore, the workshop introduces physical data visualisation as a new concept to workshop participants. Rather than only focusing on digital tools, participants will be provided with the essential practical and theoretical knowledge in visualising data through physical artefacts to foster the creative process. This provides a deeper understanding of these processes, as well as physical data visualisation as a tool to gain deeper understanding of the data, and alternative representation of social network data. This includes 3D printing, visualising ‘by hand’ and through alternative canvases as e.g. paper clay, wire, LEGO, and other artefacts. Through a practical exercise, participants will gain knowledge how to utilize alternative canvases on a practical hands-on exercise to aid concept development and understanding of their challenges. 

The workshop consists of a short manual hands-on exploration of data through the creation of a physical model of a visualisation as part of the creative visualisation process and the Design Thinking process. Concluding with a group evaluation of the digital fabrication, the workshop will furthermore introduce the basic concepts of Gephi, as a digital tool for social network visualisation and analysis. After the workshop participants will have the possibility to view physical data visualisations in the conference foyer, which will be brought by the workshop organisers to the conference.

Participants briefly escape their screens, with this hands-on tactile workshop-within-a-workshop.  This is a more tactile, way to explore alternative ways of presenting data outcomes.  This process is the quickest way to focus the mind on conceptual outcomes, before becoming disorientated in software and data challenges.  Always hugely enjoyable for paper clay novices, yet stimulating for those more experienced, it utilises existing but forgotten skill sets we all have, but in a radically new way.

Participants move from physical data visualisation, and the idea-finding phase to Gephi as digital tool for network visualisation. The workshop introduces participants into the basic concepts, modelling of data sources to input these, and perform basic functionalities to visualise networked relationships with this tool. Participants are required to install the freely available open source software on their laptops prior to the workshop.