Designed and built by Stanford University’s Humanities + Design Lab, Palladio is a Digital Humanities tool for the visualisation of complex historical data. This web-based open source application focuses on data-driven historical research. By modelling historical data we can analyse relationships across time and space and attempt to better understand the past.
Palladio is ideal for those who want to visualise networks, temporal data or geospatial data all from the same database using an intuitive graphical interface. Tabular data in various formats can be copied and pasted or uploaded to Palladio and then manipulated in many ways. It is important to ensure consistency in the data so that correct associations can be made between them.
Graphs for networks
The graph function offered by Palladio can be used for visualising a network or networks and the relationships within and between them. The points can be filtered and sized according to other parameters in the database, which is why the initial database needs to be well thought out and constructed with Palladio in mind.
Maps for locations
To make use of the map function, Palladio requires data in the “latitude, longitude” format. These points can be plotted on a map of the world and can be coloured, sized, linked and filtered. The base map can also be changed to show different elements, or a custom map can be uploaded.
Timespans and timelines for dates
The points displayed on a maps or in a graph can be filtered by time, if the database contains data in a date format. Any date data can also be visualised with a timespan, which can have various different layouts, or with a timeline, which takes the form of a bar graph.
Palladio doesn’t store any user data but anything created on Palladio can be downloaded as a .json file and then uploaded and modified at a later date. Graphs, map points, timespans and timelines can also be downloaded as .sgv image files.
Why use Palladio to visualise data?
Visualising historical data using a comprehensive and interactive application such as Palladio will help the two most important people relating to your research: you and your audience.
- Creating diagrams of networks highlights relationships between and within them
- Plotting geospatial and temporal data visually makes it easier to spot patterns
- Visualisations uncover and draw your attention to trends previously hidden in the data
For your audience
- Reading and understanding visualisations of data is easier and quicker
- Data in visual forms are more attractive and more likely to be remembered
- Visuals facilitate the interpretation and retelling of data
Palladio is an excellent example of a digital humanities tool that can be used by historians to visualise data. From a single database, researchers can create various visual elements that are personalisable according to the data available. Data visualisations can help researchers to make the most of the available data at any point during the research process. They also give meaning to data and facilitate its comprehension by the audience.