Brown Bag DH Workshop Series - Home

(For introduction and background of this workshop series, please click the "About" link on the left hand side menu.)


#S4E09: Malte Doehne (23 January)

The Diffusion of Scientific Innovations: The Case of Rational Choice Theories, 1944-1970

In this presentation, I will address the question of how scientific innovations spread within and across academic communities. First, I will report on a recently completed bibliometric study of the early diffusion of rational choice theories within and across the social sciences. Our basic contention is that new theories and ideas must be elaborated upon and conceptually translated before they can be adopted and applied to field-specific problems. We capture the resultant dynamics using a network-analytic diffusion measure. We apply this measure to trace the spread of tools and concepts that originated in John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern’s seminal Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944, 1947) into distinct research areas. The proposed framework allows for a systematic examination of the conditions under which scientific innovations spread across scientific communities. In the second part of my presentation, I will report on preliminary analyses of the social context in which early engagement with innovative Theories of Rational Choice was encouraged at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics in the period between 1944 and 1970.

You can find a preprint of our paper here:

#S4E08: Digital Research Tools (9 January)

We will look at some of the digital research tools that are available to you through the institute as well as through the Max Planck service providers. 
We introduce GitLab as a versatile platform for the entire lifecycle of your digital project, as well as collaborative writing tools and best-practices for data-sharing using the institutes OwnCloud service.
We will use the services of the GWDG. As a member of the institute, you already have an account. If you have not used it yet, please ask IT Support for your password ahead of the BBL meeting.

PAST EVENTS (Season 4)

#S4E07: Anita Lucchesi and Andreas Fickers "Technology’s Storytellers reloaded: A text-mining experiment in history of technology" (5 December)

In 1985, John Staudenmaier published “Technology’s Storyteller: Reweaving the Human Fabric” which became a landmark and reference for generations of historians of technology. As acting chief-editor of Technology & Culture, the journal of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Staudenmaier certainly had a privileged access to the archives of the Society and to its main publication organ. In using some 300 articles published in Technology & Culture as a mirror of the questions, debates and approaches that had characterized the discipline of history of technology in the United States between the late fifties and mid-eighties, Staudenmaier aimed at looking for patterns of consensus in the authors’ choice of periodization, spaces and types of technology to study. While remaining quite limited both in scope of material studied (300 articles) and topics identified (e.g. the relation between science and technology, the relationship between invention and innovation, and the question of technological progress). Our project applied topic modeling techniques to the complete collection of articles of Technology & Culture between 1959 and 2016. By exploring the whole collection of articles through for topic modeling and visualizations of semantic relationships, we aim to:
1) compare our quantitative findings of patterns of subjects with the ones produced by Staudenmaier (1959-1984);
2) offer a “distant reading” of the total corpus aiming at identifying key topics, concepts and personalities in the field; 
3) critically reflect on the possibilities and limitations of text-mining and data-visualization software (“tool criticism”) and as such 
4) promote a “digital hermeneutic”-approach in the field of history of science & technology.
Thinkering around MALLET, we followed the probabilistic model known as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) as an attempt to insert semantic meaning into vocabulary and provide discoveries through a large volume of texts. In this talk, Anita Lucchesi will present the preliminary findings of the experiment and discuss the heuristics value of distant reading for historiography.

#S4E06: Rebecca Kahn on Pelagios Commons: Linking Historical Sources and Places (21 November 2017)

Collaborative Notes:

Rebecca Kahn is part of the Pelagios Commons Investigative Team, and a post-doctoral Associate Researcher at  the Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft. The topic of her talk will be Pelagios Commons: Linking Historical Sources and Places (without the scary pointy brackets). Please find below a short description from Rebecca about what the talk will cover.
Linked data is a way of connecting online resources which share something in common. The Pelagios project has spent several years building tools and infrastructure for scholars who wish to use lInked data to connect, explore, represent and visualise historical resources, via the common entity of place. In this presentation, we will explore these tools, and how they may be used by historians to annotate and link texts, maps and images, and how this information may be used by historians to ask new questions of the sources they work with.
Pelagios ( has been a very successful DH project in UK / Europe and worldwide to create value for both digital gazetteers and primary sources/artefacts by linking them together. Please join us to learn more about this project and how it might benefit your work. We look forward to seeing you!

#S4E05: Academic Workflow (7 November 2017)

Collaborative Notes:

Anna-Maria Meister will present a few examples of her own workflow (and its failures) toward a general discussion about methods and tools. It is really meant to be a roundtable workshop, so please bring any questions you might have, or any suggestions, ideas, favorite tools etc with you; we will also have all possible adapters there for you to plug in your own laptops to show alternative strategies, problems, or solutions.


#S4E04:  (6 November 2017, Monday November 6, 2017 10am at Room 219) 

Presentation and discussion with Elisa Bellotti on network analysis. Elisa is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Mitchell Centre for Social Network Analysis at the University of Manchester.

Elisa will present her work on using a multilevel network and a mixed methods approach to study scientific collaborations based on research funding data in Italian academia.


#S4E03: Digital Publication and Peer Review: Evaluative Criteria for Emerging
Scholarship with Fred Gibbs (17 October 2017)

Collaborative Notes:

Fred Gibbs from University of New Mexico ( will discuss with us questions of digital scholarship:

How can peer review processes be adapted to accommodate team-published digital projects? What new criteria must be considered? How much does digital scholarship redefine what scholarship is or should be?


#S402: The New Digital Research Infrastructure at the MPIWG (26 September 2017)

Collaborative notes:

In the next Brown Bag Lunch we will present our plans for the new digital research infrastructure at the institute. A central focus is on making digital research outputs shareable and reusable. 

Doing digital research in the Humanities often involves developing custom tools and inventing creative solutions when existing software does not meet the requirements for Humanities scholarship. Unfortunately this often results in digital research outputs that cannot be used outside the context they have been created and are difficult to maintain in the long term.

To address this problem there are increasing efforts in the Digital Humanities community to use shared standards and technologies to make digital research interoperable and usable in the foreseeable future. 

We will present how we implement these approaches in our planned digital research infrastructure and the steps you can take to make your own digital research more sustainable.

We will meet on Tuesday September 26, 12:30–14:00 in room 265

#S4E01: Introduction (5 September 2017)

Collaborative notes:

PAST EVENTS (Season 3)

See the list of BBL Season 3 events here

PAST EVENTS (Season 2)

#S2E15: Zotero Hands-on with Wilko v. Hardenberg (7 June 2016)

#S2E14: Network Analysis Hands-on 2 with Dirk Wintergrün (24 May 2016)

Collaborative notes at:

#S2E13: Scholarly editing with TEI-XML with Klaus Thoden (12 April 2016)

Slides are attached to this page.

#S2E11: Network Analysis Hands On with Dirk Wintergrün (15 March 2016)

#S2E10: Research Databases in Art History with Martin Raspe from Bibliotheca Hertziana (23 February 2016)

Martin Raspe from the Bibliotheca Hertziana - the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome - will present the ZUCCARO research database and other digital projects at the Bibliotheca Hertziana.

To see the collaborative note, please please click "Season 2 / #10" on the left hand side menu.

#S2E09: The ISMI database by Robert Casties (9 February 2016)

To see the notes, please please click "Season 2 / #9" on the left hand side menu.

#S2E08: Introduction to Zotero with Ralf Hinrichsen (26 January 2016)

To see the collaborative note, please please click "Season 2 / #8" on the left hand side menu.

#S2E07: Visualisation in the Humanities with Marian Dörk (12 January 2016)

To see the collaborative note, please please click "Season 2 / #7" on the left hand side menu.

Marian Dörk, research professor of Information Visualization at the Fachhochschule Potsdam will talk about "From representation towards interpretation: Visualization in the Humanities" and present past, present and future visualisation projects.

#S2E06: Network Analysis with Matteo Valleriani & Roberto Lalli (8 December 2015)

To see the collaborative note, please follow this link:

#S2E05: Hands-on with the QGIS (Quantum GIS) (24 November 2015)

To see the collaborative note, please please click "Season 2 / #5" on the left hand side menu.


#S2E04: Hands-on with the Platin Geobrowser GIS (27 October 2015)

To see the collaboratively taken notes, please click "Season 2 / #4" on the left hand side menu.


#S2E03: Introduction to GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) (13 October 2015)

See the collaboratively taken notes here or click "Season 2 / #3" on the left hand side menu.


#S2E02: Introduction to digital research projects at the MPIWG (29 September 2015)

Four research projects at the MPIWG using digital tools will introduce their work:
  • Sphaera
  • GMPG
  • Local Gazetteers Project
  • ISMI

>> See the collaboratively taken notes here or click "Season 2" then "#2 Projects" on the side menu.


#S2E01: Managing your Bibliography with Zotero (15 September 2015)

Hartmut Kern from the library will show how to use Zotero as a tool for managing shared bibliography databases.

>> To see the notes taken collaboratively by the participants in this meeting, please click "Season 2" then "#1 Zotero" on the side menu. 

PAST EVENTS (Season 1)

#S1E01 Managing your own images (31 March 2015)

We will be suggesting desktop tools and websites for help you to manage your own image gallery. We also call for participants who share this need to join this conversation, and please bring us: (i) what you need from such tools, (ii) which tools you have tried,
and (iii) what are the problems you encountered, (iv) sample images that can demonstrate your needs and problems.
>> Too see the notes taken collaboratively by the participants for this workshop, please click "#1 Images" on the left hand side menu. 

#S1E02 Creating your own maps with GIS (19 May 2015)

We will introduce some GIS tools, desktop or web-based, that are commonly used for creating one's own maps. The tools will include: ArcGIS, Quantum GIS (QGIS), PLATIN GeoBrowser, and Harvard WorldMap. We hope to learn from your experience on using GIS tools, good or bad. 
>> Too see the notes taken collaboratively by the participants for this workshop, please click "#2 Maps" on the left hand side menu. 

#S1E02-hands-on: a workshop on Quantum GIS (2 June 2015)

As a follow up of the May 19th workshop, on June 2 we will have an extra hands-on workshop on using Quantum GIS, a desktop program that gives a full functionality of what one can do with GIS. The workshop will be lectured by Catherine Milova, a student assistant at Dept. III. The time will be on next Tuesday, June 2nd from 11:30 to 13:00 at Room 265. Please bring your laptop, since it will be a real hands-on workshop.


#S1E03 Text mining tools (8 June 2015)

We invite you to join us and talk about your needs, experiences, problems with the automatic analysis of texts as well as tools that you found useful. To start the discussion Anna Wolk and Ahmet Demir of Elena Aronova's group will share their experiences with the texts of the IGY handbooks. The time will be Monday June 8th, 12:30 to 14:00 in Room 265.

>> Too see the notes taken collaboratively by the participants for this workshop, please click "#3 Text-Mining" on the left hand side menu.

#S1E03-hands-on: Text mining with Voyant tools (15 June 2015)

As a follow-up to workshop #3 on text mining we will have a hands-on workshop with an easy introduction into using the online Voyant Tools with your own data. We now have our own installation at the MPIWG at The Voyant documentation can also be found online. The workshop will be on Monday June 15th 11:00-12:00 in room 265. Bring your laptops and texts!

#S1E03-hands-on 2: Text mining with IPython (7 July 2015)

As a second follow-up to workshop #3 on text mining we will have a hands-on workshop with an easy introduction into using the online IPython Notebook with your own data. We now have our own installation at the MPIWG at This workshop is about using the Python programming language and the NLTK natural language toolkit. This is a somewhat deeper dive but we present existing recipes to start with. The workshop will be on Tuesday July 7th 11:30-13:00 in room 265. Bring your laptops and texts!
>> Real-time notes in etherpad:


#S1E04/Dept. II: Academic Workflow – From Personal Archive to Publication (23 June 2015, 2-6pm)

We are glad that Sietske Fransen (MPIWG, Dept. II) and Anna-Maria Meister (Princeton) are organizing an afternoon workshop on using digital tools for academic workflow! This workshop will take place at the Conference Room of Department II (room 215). The event has been announced through the MPIWG annoucement mailing list. Please check further information there. To register, please mail Sietske Fransen.