Posts Tagged: digital humanities


This website has been pretty much on the DL for the last several weeks since its birth at a digital humanities workshop at George Mason University.  Technically it’s been open for business on the internets while I’ve been playing around with it, learning Page Builder and amazing my friends and family with new vocab (like “widgitized”). Ideally it will be the one-stop catch-all for my professional activities, including teaching, research, and also as a link to the growing repository of photographs that I collect during my travels.  Although, of course, it remains pretty open to continued tinkering, it’s time to move on to other projects that are supposed to be the meat of my sabbatical, so for now I will say the site is ready for prime time (if not quite “done”).  I would be happy to hear your comments and suggestions!  Thanks for stopping by.

Fun with Google Books Ngram Viewer

Today we tried out a  number of data mining programs.  I like the term “data mining:” it seems an appropriate way to think about digging deep, with some goal in mind, finding raw glittery things that need to be handed off to a skilled person to consider, judge, cut, polish, and set.

Graphs can be really compelling, for they so swiftly and decisively draw conclusions from piles of data–in this case, books published from 19th to 20th centuries analyzed for the frequency with which words appear. They’re also dangerous, I know, for they are certainly light on nuance. But I guess that is the role of the scholar: to understand the context and ask the further questions to properly position data that appears so spiffy and commanding into a broader consideration—or, alternately, to just go ahead and use it as proof of the devastation brought to centuries of architectural tradition (beauty) with the advent of anti-aesthetic concepts (space).  Especially considering this graph, in which the lines cross at 1907–the very year that Peter Behrens was named design director for the A.E.G.!–I can maybe see how a person might be tempted to do that.

StoryMap: Thomas U. Walter in Europe, 1838

This cool product is the result of many years of research into Thomas U. Walter plugged into a very easy-to-use internet tool.

Thinglink: awkward name, cool tool



These are two quickly-made examples of annotated slides in Thinglink. In the ongoing issue of what digital tools mean for the humanities, I think Thinklink lands on the “show off” side of things–I don’t currently see this as a means for research, but as a way to repackage content for classes in a way that I think would be really engaging for students, this looks like it has lots of potential.

Ugly Duckling

duckI was really really really looking forward to getting my project started today, especially with all the promises that Omeka was super-easy and awesome-intuitive.  Not true!  Maybe after having easy experiences setting up several sites on WordPress in the last years, I expected Omeka to be a souped-up version of what I already know, but more powerful, cooler, maybe even prettier.  Instead it felt clunky, and even by reading the step-by-step instructions, which helped me get a few things set up, I still just don’t have a clear sense of how everything fits together.  Also, it seems that the kinds of things I was counting on to make my project happen are not super-easy or available; or maybe that’s still just yet to be revealed. I ended the day with a sort of half-baked digital draft of something no one would want to look at, let alone use.

Overall, my experience this afternoon reflected those of my first time baking a pie, which was not that long ago.  I am pretty accomplished in the kitchen, but for some reason the skills for fruit pies elude me, and ultimately I think: why bother, when cake is better anyhow?  I’m not willing yet to throw out Omeka like I did with that sad blueberry pie, but I am willing to right now just claim the prize for Ugliest Ducklingest with hopes that this serious case of the uglies will resolve itself into something much more elegant, useful and beautiful in the (hopefully near) future.

image source: click here