Reading failure

Today’s reading demonstrates how social network analysis can be used to read the silences, the absences, and the failures of text to fill in detail.  Lauren Klein’s article at ARCADE titled “When Reading Fails” today points to the difficulty of reading James Hemmings, Thomas Jefferson’s cook and Sally Hemmings’ older brother.  By mining the Jefferson papers, digitized at the University of Virginia, she visualizes Jefferson’s correspondence and learns that you can begin to see a story about Jefferson’s relationship to his staff by understanding the frequency and subjects about which he corresponded with them.  What I find particularly interesting is her method of visualization.  Rather than the usual “hairball” that typifies most SNA visualizations, this one uses a single line to track correspondence.