Andrea Scharnhorst: “From Knowledge Structures to New Interfaces into Collections”

Written on 12/14/2012. Filed under .

Information Organization Research Group (IOrg) Lecture:

Dr. Andrea Scharnhorst
Royal Netherlands Academy of Art and Sciences
Data Archiving and Networked Services and eHumanities group

Union 191

Lunch will be provided
Please register online:

This lecture addresses the need for new navigation strategies in the vast amount of digital available information. It starts with a report about the “The Knowledge Space Lab”, founded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and dealing with the emergence of category structures in knowledge spaces as different as libraries and the world-wide web. At the core of this project stands a comparison of the evolution of the Wikipedia topical category structure and the Universal Decimal Classification of Paul Outlet, But, the more fundamental question at stack is how to create new – visually enhanced and tangible – interfaces for collections.

For a reading into this topic the following articles are recommended:

Salah, Almila Akdag, Cheng Gao, Krzysztof Suchecki, and Andrea Scharnhorst. 2012. “Need to Categorize: A Comparative Look at the Categories of Universal Decimal Classification System and Wikipedia.” Leonardo 45 (1) (February): 84–85. doi:10.1162/LEON_a_00344. Preprint available at

Suchecki, Krzysztof, Alkim Almila Akdag Salah, Cheng Gao, Andrea Scharnhorst, and Almila Akdag Salah. 2012. “Evolution of Wikipedia’s Category Structure”. Advances in Complex Systems 15 (supp01) (March 4): 1250068–1. doi:10.1142/S0219525912500683. Preprint available at

Scharnhorst, Andrea, Almila Akdag Salah, Krzysztof Suchecki, Cheng Gao, and Richard P. Smiraglia. 2011. “The Evolution of Knowledge, and Its Representation in Classification Systems.” In Classification and Ontology: Formal Approaches and Access to Knowledge: Proceedings of the International UDC Seminar, 19-20 September 2011, The Hague, The Netherlands, ed. Aida Slavic and Edgardo Civallero, 269–282. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag.

Scharnhorst, Andrea, Olav ten Bosch, and Peter Doorn. 2012. “Looking at a Digital Research Data Archive – Visual Interfaces to EASY”. Digital Libraries; Physics and Society (April 14).

For related visualizations see:

Salah, Alkim Almila Akdag, Cheng Gao, Andrea Scharnhorst, and Krzysztof Suchecki. 2011. Design vs. Emergence: Visualisation of Knowledge Orders. Courtesy of The Knowledge Space Lab, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In “7th Iteration (2011): Science Maps as Visual Interfaces to Digital Libraries,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper.

Do load the different maps into your browser and explore them

Bio: Dr. Andrea Scharnhorst is Head of e-Research at the Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) institution in the Netherlands – a large digital archive for research data primarily from the social sciences and humanities. She is also member of the e-humanities group at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam, where she coordinates the computational humanities programme.

She has a background in physics (Diploma in Statistical Physics) and in philosophy of science (PhD on the application of mathematical models to the science system as self-organizing system). Her current work can best be characterized as part of the information sciences.

Her work focuses on understanding, modeling and simulating the emergence of innovations. Hereby, innovations are understood broadly as e.g., new modes of behavior and learning, new forms of communication, new technologies or new scientific ideas. She has worked on the transfer of concepts and methods at an interface between physics, social sciences and humanities. More recently she analyzed the structure and emergence of knowledge orders as visible in library classification systems or the category network of Wikipedia.

Dr. Scharnhorst has developed a specific framework (Geometrically Oriented Evolutionary THEories: GOE_THE) to describe processes of problem solving and learning as an evolutionary search process in unknown knowledge landscapes. Recently she edited a book (together with Katy Boerner and Peter van den Besselaar) about Models of Science Dynamics (Springer, Understanding Complexity 2012).

She coordinated and participated in several EU and national funded projects. Currently, she leads a computational humanities project on Dutch Census data (CEDAR ), and participates in another one on Elite Networks Shifts in Indonesian history. She also participates in a European funded research project on scientific careers (ACUMEN –, and in a Network of Excellence on Internet Science (EINS – ).

See also: