CE38 - La Révolution numérique : rapports au savoir et à la culture

PORTs, and Information and Communication Sciences and Technology. Querying and Visualizing eighteenth-century shipping and trade dynamics in the digital era – PORTIC

Submission summary

PORTIC intends to study the spatial and economic dynamics at work, which resulted in increasingly integrated markets: a process that paved the way for and sustained the Industrial Revolution. To do this, PORTIC builds on two massive corpora produced by two completed ANR programs, Navigocorpus and Toflit18 and cross-references data on shipping activities in French ports with data from eighteenth century French balance of trade records, in order to better understand the interconnection between regional, national and international trade. The combination of information contained in the two corpora will make it possible to estimate the respective shares of national and international trade, to better identify the ports that articulated markets and their interrelations, to analyze regional specialization mechanisms at work between different ports, to assess the importance of warfare on port economy, to gauge the relevance of smuggling across the Channel, to quantify the share of French international transport services which is absent from contemporary statistics, or to compute the ratio between trade value and tonnages or crew size in maritime transport flows. Whereas historians and economists will use this data to better understand the relevance of international trade and shipping for French eighteenth-century economic growth, PORTIC aims also to make it possible for everyone to explore the data though a website that will offer a progressive and guided approach to its content and integrate the imperfect nature of historical data.

PORTIC, a project jointly designed by historians, economists, GIS specialists, computer scientists, and specialists in information and interaction design on the Web, will develop tools for a clear and scientifically sound visualization of this historical data and its varying degrees of reliability, to meet the need of different audience groups. The imperfection of data derives from missing information, contradictory information provided by different historical sources or from their imprecise content. The imperfect character of part of the information forms an essential element of a correct historical understanding, but it is presently insufficiently taken into account by data visualization tools, in particular with regards to flows. PORTIC aims to promote a better access to historical knowledge for citizens, and to increase their awareness of its uneven degrees of reliability.

The Digital Humanities are fundamental to all the phases of the project. Data mining and semi-automatized procedures will make it possible to detect outliers and contradictory information and to let historians qualify their reliability. The data visualization interface will make missing, imprecise or uncertain information clearly visible, to prevent users from drawing inaccurate conclusions. Finally, user-friendly learning paths and filters will enable different types of users to access and understand the data according to their needs.

By designing visualization tools for imperfect data, interactive curation models, and a query interface adapted to the users’ diverse requirements, PORTIC will concretely show the fundamental turn that the Digital Revolution has introduced in Social Sciences, both for research purposes and for the key issue of making our past accessible to different types of audiences, to answer a variety of social demands. All PORTIC outputs will be published under an open license.

Project coordination

Silvia Marzagalli (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - CENTRE DE LA MEDITERRANEE MODERNE ET CONTEMPORAINE)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 408,240 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2019 - 42 Months

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