Daily Archives: June 8, 2013

History of this Site

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For those who are finding us via Twitter, Facebook or word of mouth, etc., I thought I’d fill in a bit of background about the appearance of this digital historians site on a particular Friday in June. It was introduced by Sharon Leon at the “Working Group for Digital Historians” unconference session at THATCamp Prime, proposed at http://chnm2013.thatcamp.org/06/06/working-group-for-digital-historians/. You’ll also find a link on that page, at lower right, to the “Notepad” of session notes created collaboratively during the session (or go directly to http://chnm2013.thatcamp.org/notepads/digital-historians-working-group/).

(Update 6/9: Recommended Twitter hashtag is #dhist.)

Thanks go to Sharon for creating  the session proposal and this site!


Analysis and Visualization for Oral Interviews

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I’m sitting in the colloquium at DHSI looking at some slides of different textual analysis and visualization tools and wondering: what existing tools would be good for looking at oral interviews? Can we use out of the box tools that are already out there, or does the nature of the interview and transcriptions of recorded speech require new ones?

THATCamp 2013: Teaching Digital

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At the request of some folks who couldn’t make it to Virginia for  THATCamp Prime, I recorded the first part of Jeff McClurken’s session on teaching digital. Video runs about an hour. I apologize for any blips in video or audio, it’s the best I could get from the camera on my laptop and Google Hangouts on Air.

The document on screen is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GNbwozFt–ab_RyReU7WumOtSZuNmYhUazhSljIk8RQ/edit#heading=h.o29zpwsm8wx

Four Flavors of Digital History

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Given out discussion at THATcamp I thought it might be useful to start this off with a run down of genres of digital history. When someone asks me what digital history is my answer generally will involve reference to these four distinct kinds of things.

  1. Computational analysis and interpretation of historical sources: Everything from Word Clouds to Topic Modeling. This includes both cliometrics and those who swear by the screwmeneutical imperative.
  2. Collecting and/or preserving born-digital primary sources:From disk images of hardrives, to archived webpages. This includes but is not limited to photos on flickr, presidential emails, lolcats, the stuxnet virus, sensor-net data, the source code of ninja gaiden 2, the interface of instagram, yelp reviews of the Statue of Liberty & an assortment of punch cards from the 1890s & the plug board of an enigma machine.
  3. Digital modes for presenting, organizing, and distributing historical interpretation: From building software to support historical research, These might include presenting historical games and simulations as publications or creating software for exhibiting cultural heritage collections on the web, creating digital exhibitions to communicate historical analysis.
  4. Code: Digital History often requires code to scape web pages, clean texts, transform CSV files and perform various other sundry tasks, on both large and small scales. Have you written something you’d like others to use? Or found some hidden python scripts at GitHub? Post them here!

Getting Started: Digital History Reading Lists

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If anything came out of our discussion at THATCamp Prime today, one idea was that digital historians need to be proactive about seeking out their own community. So I’d like to jump right in on asking the DigHist community for help.

This year, I’ll need to formulate reading lists for each of my exam fields for my PhD in history from Northeastern University. My prospective fields are (1) USA from Revolution to Civil War; (2) the Atlantic World; and (3) digital history. I’ve been encouraged to pioneer the digital history field by several of my professors, but unfortunately, they don’t know the field well enough to come up with a reading list. So here’s where the community could be of great help to this graduate student: by suggesting key texts (be they books, articles, blog posts, projects, whatever) that you would include on a digital history reading list for an exam.

I’ve already got the basics, such as Cohen and Rosenzweig, etc. You can see my Zotero library and join the group here: https://www.zotero.org/groups/digital_history_reading_list. Please add your favorite digital history texts to the Zotero library, if you’d like, or simply add ideas in the comments section of this post. I hope that this list will also turn into a good general reading list about digital history for anyone to use.