Journals were originally collections of letters from scientists and scholars to their community or between one another. Before this, there was the Republic of Letters in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Now, Stanford scholars have used social network visualization tools to peek into these networks:
A fascinating economy of information presentation, and great insights into the networks that set many foundations we build upon still.
4 Thoughts on "The Republic of Letters, Visualized as Social Networks"
What a fantastic way of visualizing history!
More info here: http://speaking.stanford.edu/highlights/Mapping_the_Republic_of_Letters.html
Unfortunately, the visualization reflects a very incomplete database. From One would not know, for example, that Italians were at least as prominent in the Republic as were the French and English.