This is a quick and admittedly crude simulation of a network of ideas, primary sources (things that talk about the ideas directly) and secondary sources (things that talk either about the idea directly or about the primary source). Ideas are represented by a red node, primary sources by a dark blue node, and secondary sources by a green node.
You may also notice violet nodes appearing from time to time as the simulation runs. These are intended to represent agenda-driven items -- pieces of scholarship that use the idea in question in service to a particular ideological and social agenda, rather than discuss the idea or acholarship on its own merits. For example, medieval texts (and more importantly, the idea of "the medieval") were often used during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the service of nationalist or racist agendas that may or may not be borne out by the medieval works in question -- a practice that has ramifications in the present day. It can also be considered in terms of modern memes, where ideas become associated with those images when they orginally were something separate.
To run the simulation, simply enter the percentages prompted for in the boxes below. If you want to run the simulation without any agenda-driven items make sure the percentages in the top row equate to 100 percent. Also note that the nodes generated that are affiliated with existing ideas or sources will follow the expected heirarchy -- primary sources are connected to ideas, secondary sources to primary sources, and new ideas to either. Agenda-driven items can attach to any node, as the point is to show the bias they carry rather than their relationship to the original idea or underlying scholarship.
The lower row of prompts control the frequency that ideas unaffiliated with any of the other nodes appear or a particular node is destroyed. Those two numbers cannot equal more than 100 percent, either. The final number, the speed of the simulation, indicates how often a new node will appear. For best results, you should probably not attempt to go any faster than one second.
The three buttons are fairly self-explanatory. The first button starts or stops the simulation, and in doing so hides these instructions and the input boxes, leaving only the two buttons. The button on the far right destroys any nodes designated as agenda-driven items, while the one in the middle designated as agenda-driven items, but only if a randomly-generated percentage overcomes the weight of the idea out of 100. The button on the right can be useful to show the distortive effect of ideologically-motivated pieces of scholarship on our understanding of a particular work and its connotations, while the one in the middle can show how even with concerted effort some ideas remain resistant to our attempts to disassociate them with our scholarship.
One final note: the simulation can be rotated, zoomed out of, or zoomed into by means of the mouse. Simply click and drag to rotate the simulation, or scroll in or out to zoom. You can also click on individual notes to destroy them.Percent chance of new connected idea: Percent chance of new connected primary source: Percent chance of new connected secondary source: