Past Conference: RSA 2024 Chicago

After last year’s RSA in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this time there was a completely different setting: Chicago. On the photo featured here, you can see me in action on the last day of the conference. That was too bad, especially since I had hoped for better after last year, but the conference in general proved very fruitful.

I used this opportunity, to present someo of the work that I undertook for my dissertation. In the near future, I hope to turn this into an article. My abstract was as follows:

In the early modern period, news circulated through easily adaptable anonymous handwritten news-sheets. This paper discusses how the analysis of these adaptations aids our understanding of the broader networks in which this type of document circulated. It comprises a structural comparison based on a dataset built from two different archives and highlights examples of similarities both between and within these collections.

How and when these documents were created is difficult to unravel as they were frequently copied, edited, and paraphrased. The advantage is, however, that with the application of similarity analysis, we can systematically recover the documents’ textual history. The mathematical formula of cosine similarity traces news items with a high degree of similitude across the dataset. This enables one to recover traces of how news traveled between regions and illuminates to what extent different collections were based on the same sources. This method also resurfaced some particularly intriguing examples of news writers making small mistakes during the process of newsletter compilation. This further illuminates the method in which these documents were created on which we otherwise know very little.

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