State of the field

My sense is that more and more research using digital humanities techniques is being published that’s interesting and read by scholar who aren’t particularly in the digital humanities. (Cameron Blevins’s article in the most recent JAH and Matthew Wilkins’s article in last winter’s ALH immediately come to mind.) This seems to me very encouraging. At the same time there’s been some prominent critiques of the digital humanities recently. I’d be interested in talking about the “state of the field” for DH. Is DH research reached a point of maturity and visibility that we’ll be seeing increasing amounts of digital humanities research in the major disciplinary journals?

THATCamp Junior Session Outcomes

It’s taken me a week to recover from the hotness that was #thatcamp and the inanity that was #thatcamproadtrip. But I’ve finally had a chance to write up my thoughts about the THATCamp Junior session that I proposed at the camp:

Slides for the CMS talk

Here is a link to my slides on Slideshare for the CMS talk I gave.

How to get started, or give someone advice about, visualizing humanities data and cultural heritage collections

Hello, THATCampers! In the spirit of one session/one tool THATCamp production, this document is the outcome of a discussion about how to prep data and choose a visualization tool for humanists who don’t have direct access to high-level database and programming skills.

We welcome your comments, suggestions and feedback. Hopefully, you’ll find this step-by-step planning document useful as a hand-out to communicate with colleagues and/or students who are just getting started in the research process for projects that include data visualization. Additionally, there is a list of visualization tools collected in the Google Doc that this session’s attendees produced.

Thanks to all of the session attendees for lively discussion and great contributions!

Steps to take for managing data to make visualization easier:

  1. Start with the argument you’re making and how that argument could look on paper
    1. Start thinking about the visualization before you start taking notes
    2. Find visualization tools to match your paper mockup
    3. Determine feasibility of collecting data for that visualization tool/type of visualization
      1. This will depend on your skill level and comfort with technology.
    4. Understand the limitations of the visualization tool (e.g. single date required when data is often in date ranges)
  2. Consider end result
    1. Data exploration? Out of the box software is best used for exploring data
    2. Data presentation in argument form? Building an argument in graphic form will probably require (but check with @tjowens about facets in Recollection)
    3. There will be a $0, $1,000, $10,000, $50,000, $100,000 and $1,000,000 version of this. First make the one that costs nothing and think about how you would scale up if it turned out to be particularly interesting.
      1. If you compromise and go a low-cost version, don’t forget the idealized version you wanted in the first place.
  3. Find the least complex tool you need for the job of data collection
    1. Excel is a useful tool, but data with a lot of repetition is ideally expressed in a relational database.
      1. Excel can auto-complete entries, but auto-complete can also create inaccurate data
  4. Start with small data sets, and iterate often
    1. Simplify data w/ data dictionary
    2. Use visualization as data remediation


Please add links to your GoogleDocs Here

UPDATE: Aram Zucker-Scharff has created a GoogleDocs collection of THATCamp notes, and from within GoogleDocs you can save your crowd-sourced notes to that collection.


If you’ve created crowd-sourced notes in GoogleDocs for a THATCamp session, please add a link to those notes in a comment below.


Joint Session: THATCamps LAC and Prime (x-posted)

Cross-posted from


Recent notices from funding agencies have been clear – they want to fund digital humanities work and they want to fund collaborations between R1 and Liberal Arts Colleges. Given this, we’d like to devote this session to talking about how we can best foster, propose, and run such collaboration.

This might include topics such as identifying collaborators, expertise (pedagogical, technical, disciplinary) sharing, ways to source “cycles” and to establish test beds, infrastructure, data set sharing, maximizing the opportunities of undergraduate research and pedagogy, and more!

Where to have dinner

There’s so many of us that we won’t all fit in one restaurant, but we have three suggestions for where to repair starting at 5:30 or so. We also hear that a few people might drop by from the American Association of University Publishers meeting . . . that should be interesting!


    Great Irish pub with fish and chips and the like. Catch a ride over with someone as they’re leaving or Twitter your need for a ride.


    If you don’t have a car or can’t catch a ride, this might be your best bet. Terrific bar and bar food at “The Well,” plus a higher-end restaurant called Boxwood.


    Good Indian restaurant just across from the Auld Shebeen.

I’ve made this map publicly editable (since you wouldn’t let me for the schedule), so feel free to add suggestions. 🙂

View THATCamp Restaurants in a larger map

Thinking like a (monkey) hacker

We’ll start by walking through some of the thinking habits and techniques in hacking the xkcd titles GreaseMonkey script. Greasemonkey is a Firefox plugin, so grab a copy if you don’t have one.

Also grab the GreaseMonkey addon

And the xkcd titles userscript

If you aren’t familiar with XKCD, you should be.

My go-to reference for javascript is Mozilla Developer Network

FireBug is a very useful tool for inspecting a web page, and will likely be helpful in your hacking adventures.

A basic text editor will also be helpful. TextMate is popular and good. kedit or gedit on Linux similar. I s’pose Notepad is the Windows equivalent. If you’ve done XML work in the past, you might have <oXygen/>, which also has a pretty darn good javascript editor.

Other suggestions? Please leave in the comments.

After we’ve spent a little while walking through hacking the xkcd userscript, we’ll turn it loose for everyone to do their own hacking on this slightly more interesting userscript, which modifies the THATCamp Campers page in a couple of ways.







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