HIST-H585 graduate digital-methods research course

Spring 2016: History in the Digital Age

How are history and computing related? How does computing support or change the goals of historians, in terms of theory, methodology, pedagogy and publication? How does history inform computing practices? This class is designed as a graduate-level introduction to some of the debates, historiographic challenges, and practical undertakings that arise when these two worlds combine.

People and Resources

Week 1: Intro and Text Mining (2015-01-14)

A practical application of text mining designed to jumpstart a conversation about:

    • the affordances of human vs digital distributed cognition
    • what it means to do digital history and/or digital humanities

    Reading

    In class

    Resources/Practicum After Class

    • Twitter: Sign up, find a few historians to follow (using the hashtag #twitterstorians, and use our class hashtag #DHIntro16 in your class-relevant Tweets this term.

    Week 2: Messy Evidence vs Clean Data (2015-01-21)

    Is evidence different than data? How do we know? How do we get data? How do we navigate the difference between aggregate and anecdotal? How do we navigate different data sets ranging from small-scale personal archival collection to large paywalled data to public data scraping? What form should these data take? How are these definitions and approaches affected by distributed-cognition approaches (human or computer) that help us collect, transcribe and clean data?

    Reading

    Tasks Before Class

    • Download a text editor (http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/ for Mac or http://www.sublimetext.com/2 for either Mac or Windows)
    • Find/explore a collection of digitized sources in your subfield (can be your own). How would you reduce these sources to a set of rows and columns in a spreadsheet? To text documents? What kinds of questions lend themselves to the answers this spreadsheet might provide? What choices do you have to make? Is there an implicit historical argument underlying those choices?
    • Find one example of crowdsourcing and document its strengths and weaknesses.
    • Bring your own documents. I can provide a sample data set for this week and next, but it's best that you start working with your own documents as early in the semester as possible. If these documents aren't digitized, please email me.

    Resources/Practicum After Class

    Week 3: Topic Modeling & Corpus Linguistics (2015-01-28)

    What can we do with large scale data (once it's clean) from a textual perspective? How does it change how we talk about data (statistics vs anecdote), and/or use interdisciplinary approaches like computational linguistics? How does data mining help us with data cleanup?

    Reading

    Tasks Before Class

    Resources/Practicum After Class

    • The command-line tutorial for MALLET from Programming Historian. You know the analytical vocabulary now; use that to help make the technical vocabulary more approachable.

    Potential_Reflection_Structure.png

    Week 4: Named Entity Recognition & Natural Language Processing (2015-02-04)

    How can we take basic text mining one step further? What kinds of new data do these processes generate? How do we balance the flexibility of command-line work with the time savings we get from GUI interfaces for this kind of process?

    Reading

    Tasks Before Class

    Resources/Practicum After Class

    Week 5: Sustainability and Access (2015-02-11)

    How does a digital history project, with all of its moving parts and collaborators, get off the ground? How do we back up our stuff? How do we future-proof our stuff? How do we make sure our stuff is accessible to, and informed by, a variety of potential audiences?

    Week 6: Maps & spatial history (2015-02-18)

    How does space fit into historical analysis? What do maps and cartograms have in common? Are we GIS practitioners or neogeographers (and what is neogeography anyway)?

    Reading

    Tasks Before Class

    Resources/Practicum After Class

    • Lincoln Mullen's Spatial History Workshop (shameless editorialization: it is awesome)
    • Spatial Data in R: https://pakillo.github.io/R-GIS-tutorial/

    Week 7: Networks and Data Viz (2016-02-25)

    Does seeing data instead of reading about evidence change how we ask questions? Make arguments? What works and what doesn’t in data visualization?

    Readings

    Tasks before class

    Resources/practicum after class

    Week 8: Images & Augmented Reality (2016-03-03)

    How does image processing work? What does it contribute to a study of history? Can augmented reality provide additional substance to the question of historical research? 

    Reading

    Tasks before class

    • If you could bring a(n?) historical object to class that students struggle to engage with--because they don't have experience of its usage, size, proportion, feel, emotional effect, whatever--what would it be? Please find several photos and, if possible, line illustrations of it.
    • What object do you use every day that drives you nuts, because you have fabulous ideas to improve it if you just had the expertise to make it yourself?
      • Think about the not-so-distant past, in which most people were makers. How can you use the concepts behind the maker movement to help students understand material culture in your time period.
    • How do you think future historians will fit the maker movement into a history of material culture? Of social history? Of cultural history?

    Week 11: Publics and publications (2016-03-31)

    How does digital history and its emphasis on distributed knowledge and collaboration change the history profession? How do we approach the scholarly world as digital historians?

    Reading

    Tasks before class

    • How would our long-form work change if it weren't presented in linear textual form?
      • Start with your current course project.
      • Think about what would need to be included if it were part of a long-form 90,000 word project. What would you include? What would work as linear text and what wouldn't?
      • What technical support would you need? A web site? Scalar? Something else?
      • How would you think about peer review?

    Week 12: DigHist and Analog Pedagogy (2016-04-07)

    How do we use digital history to shape teaching and learning? How do the theoretical debates around digital history shape our pedagogical practices? How do technical limitations in university classrooms shape our teaching, digital or analog?

    Reading

    This week's class:

    My goal is to give you an abbreviated sense of what it feels like to participate in a variety of online pedagogical exercises:

    • Discussion forums, the most common method of asynchronous interaction in online courses.
    • Synchronous chat, one of two common simultaneous interaction options
      • 30 minutes.
      • Text-based chat about tools that support digital history methodology in both analog and digital classrooms, starting promptly at 6:30 on Thursday.
      • The other simultaneous interaction is video conference. Zoom is my favorite of these both for its dependability and functionality, but I'll be sitting in the airport on my way to a conference and I don't want to subject you to all-too-frequent boarding announcements. We can test it for 5 minutes just to play with its screen sharing and notation functions.
    • Wikipedia, a common way of staging non-paper-based research projects
      • 60-75 minutes
      • Choose an educational theory from the diagram at http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/constructionism-reborn/ that addresses one of your classroom concerns/needs (authorship, student ownership, project focus, or collaboration, or a blend). I've built several into our in-class experience already:
        • Problem Based Learning (the giant poster paper we wrote on during our work on the primary source list)
        • Constructionism (the maker space experience)
        • Sociocultural theory (Vygotsky by way of Engestrom in the Activity Theory triangle)
      • Find the Wikipedia article on your chosen educational theory. By 8:30 or 9 Thursday night:
        • Copy and paste it to a Canvas page.
        • Add a short section (200 words ish) on how the theory would inform your redesign of
          • an undergraduate lesson in your field using one of the digital history methodologies we've learned this semester.
          • one of the online lessons we undertook this week (including this Wikipedia lesson).
        • Mark your edits clearly (by changing the text color to blue)
    • Back to discussion forums, the most common method of asynchronous interaction in online courses.

    Week 14: Project Management and Collaboration (2016-04-21)

    How does a digital history project, with all of its moving parts and collaborators, get off the ground? How do we pass our stuff to someone else? At what point in a DH project do we start to think about project management issues?

    Reading

    Week 15: Final thoughts, or a controversy (2016-04-28)

    What's next? How do historians not in this class feel about what's next? Do we agree?

    Reading

    These are long, and it's the end of the semester. If you're crunched for time, skim the introduction and Lara Putnam's article and focus on the exchange between Cohen/Mandler and Armitage/Guldi.

    Week 16: Poster Session (2016-05-05)

    You are cordially invited to partake of cheese, dessert, other refreshments, and end-of-term presentations at House Awesomesauce* from 6:30-8:30 pm on Thursday, May 5.

    There's plenty of room for everyone to park in the driveway so turn down the cul de sac rather than parking at the top on the street.

    * When one of my partner's students asked if he would be taking my name, he responded that we were both changing our last name. His student suggested we become "The Drs. Awesomesauce." It stuck.