Ten years ago, the Programming Historian was born at the Network in Canadian History & Environment (NiCHE) In 2008, William J. Turkel and Alan MacEachern introduced the project by writing a series of tutorials aimed at historians looking to build their technical skills. It has attracted more than 1.3-million visitors.
The project was originally inspired by a gap. While Digital History had been an excellent resource for those seeking to put the past online, Turkel and MacEarchern worried that historians would lack to create digital tools for research. In 2008, the project has evolved into the co-written Programming Historian, focusing heavily on Python.
But the project had not yet reached its potential. The digital era had changed the types of problems many historians were having with their sources – particularly digital or digitized sources. Yet the traditional scholarly environment did not provide a venue for those conversations.
Some of the earlier contributors were environmental historians as in other countries, too. Jim Clifford, Daniel Macfarlane, and Josh MacFadyen produced a series of digital mapping lessons in 2013, which formed the cornerstone of our Geospatial Historian series. Since then, the project has branched in new directions, including tutorials as divergent as augmented reality, and data mining.
The project continues to grow in new directions. It is on the lookout for a French Language Team to help us move bravely forth into our second decade.
If you are interested in Digital History and read German please have look to my book “Geschichte Digital – Historische Welten neu vermessen”; You’ll find a short English summary on https://wethink.hypotheses.org/2161.
Not only society, but also science and with it historiography are changing. If this change takes place outside of existing basic patterns of scientific thought, there will be a paradigm shift, induced by new techniques and concepts. The “digital turn” triggered by computers, programs and algorithms and amplified and disseminated by the Internet would have to prove to be a showcase case of a scientific revolution in the sense of Thomas Kuhn, even if he developed his concept primarily for the natural sciences. The difficulty of such an investigation lies, however, in the question from which point of view we should lead it – we are in the middle of it. This can also be seen in Pascal Föhr’s dissertation. While the question of his research corresponds to the traditional historical method, the majority of the terms he uses come from the new world of computer science. Continue reading →
The University of Chigaco Press 2017 published an interesting book: Science in the Archives, edited by Lorraine Daston. It shows that “the past can be a treasure trove of material vital to present and future research”: data banks assembled by geneticists; weather diaries trawled by climate scientists; libraries visited by historians. The book discusses episodes in the history of geology, genetics, philology, climatology, medicine, and more. Thoroughly exploring the practices, it “reveals the essential historical dimension of the sciences” including the use of Big Data. Continue reading →
The University of Zurich is developing a Digital Society Initiative (DSI) to engage with the impact of digital technology that should be studied historically. Monika Dommann, Martin Dusinberre and Gesine Krüger therefore plan to establish a History Lab within this Initiative. They argue that digital history should have to play a key role there because Big Data, surveillance, privacy, access rights and the circulation of cultural artefacts and other digitally mediated social interaction demand a deep historical understanding. Find here a short cut of the concept.
Close reading or Distant reading: A new book of proceedings entitled “Reading Historical Sources in the Digital Age” («Lire des sources historiques à l’ère numérique») has just been published. The contributions of this volume base on selected papers presented at the conference of the University of Luxembourg held in 2013.
L.I.S.A., the scientific platform of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, on July 14, 2016 published a report of the outcome of a symposium that was organised by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and held in the Villa Vigoni in Menaggio at the beautiful Lake of Como, May 26 to 29, 2016. The Villa Vigoni is an instution that “fosters the relationships between Italy and Germany in the fields of scientific research and culture in a European perspective”. Literature was in the focus of the symposium.
Clio online, the professional portal of the historical sciences in Germany recently published a new manual. It maps the field of digital history including institutional infrastructures and tools. The aim is a practical one: To give a fact-based introduction to the state of digital professional information and an overview of the most important tools and instruments. Thus, it is aimed at both students and teachers, as well as to researcher and historians who need an introduction to the state of the professional information for their area of research.
The guide is structured along the following issues: Digital working methods and techniques, collections, epochs, regions and topic.
The guide is in German and edited by Laura Busse, Wilfried Enderle, Rüdiger Hohls, Gregor Horstkemper, Thomas Meyer, Jens Prellwitz and Annette Schuhmann. You find it here: http://guides.clio-online.de/
Guido Koller, Geschichte Digital – Historische Welten neu vermessen, Stuttgart, 2016
Die digitale Kommunikation prägt inzwischen das Berufsbild der Historiker entscheidend. Heute ist Norm, was vor 20 Jahren noch Ausnahme war: Historische Welten werden digital vermessen und analog interpretiert. Wie Historiker denken, lehren, schreiben ändert sich durch die Digitalisierung schon heute und wirkt auf das Schreiben von Geschichte zurück: Mit Algorithmen verarbeiten Forscher heute große Datenmengen, die völlig neue Perspektiven und Herangehensweisen an die historischen Quellen ermöglichen. Das Buch beschreibt den Stand des digitalen Wandels für die Geschichte als Teil der Geisteswissenschaften und diskutiert die Perspektiven über die Zukunft des Big Data in den historischen Wissenschaften. Ein Serviceteil, in dem Infrastrukturen, Portale, Tools, Standards und Blogs vorgestellt werden, ergänzt dieses Buch.
The digital communication characterizes the professional profile of historians. Today is standard, what, 20 years ago, was the exception: Past worlds are measured digitally and interpreted analogously. The digital change captures the production and communication of historical knowledge and affects the writing of history: With algorithms, we process large amounts of data and create a new digital information society, a network, a hybrid constellation of people and things. The book describes the state of the digital change for the History as part of the Humanities and discusses its further perspectives. It includes a service part, where infrastructures, portals, tools, standards and blogs are presented.
Living Books about History represent a new form of digital anthology. They present short essays on current topics of scholarly interest accompanied by selected contributions that are freely available online.
The project is testing a new form of scholarly publication and aims to draw attention to the potentials of open access by rediscovering and reusing scholarly texts and sources. Contributions:
Tara Andrews: Digital Humanities
Almut Höfert: Miracels, Marvels and Monsters in the Middle Ages
Guido Koller, Sebastian Schüpbach: The History of Modern Administration
Martin Lengwiler, Beat Stüdli: History of the Welfare State
The new German Zeitschrift für Digitale Geisteswissenschaften (Journal for Digital Humanities) of the Forschungsverbund Marbach, Weimar and Wolfenbüttel, supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung in its first volume discusses limits and possibilities of the Digital Humanities.
The editors, Constanze Baum and Thomas Stäcker, want to present theories, methods and projects of the Digital Humanities in the German speaking part of Europe. Not all texts are already available. But what is there is really interesting – here a small selection of articles:
Franco Moretti explains the “Operationalizing” of Distant reading in an interesting pamphlet from the Stanford Literary Lab (see below). Operationalization is a process that transforms a concept into a series of operations. This in turn makes it possible to measure objects. In an empirical approach to literature we measure the space which a character occupies in a text. Continue reading →
In communicating and teaching humanities visualization become more and more important. One popular visual communication instrument are slides. More and more of them are shared on Slideshare. A very nice example is Sampling in Qualitative and Quantitative Research from Sam Ladner. The Senior Researcher at Microsoft Office shows us sampling methods and let us have a practical how-to-do. Her key themes are quantitative and qualitative assumptions in sampling, types of samplings, ethnographic and interview sampling and content analysis sampling. Continue reading →
A contribution to the Debate about Texts and Books in the Digital Age
Production and distribution of books are expensive, which is why researchers are in need of financial support. In Switzerland, so far, researcher counted on the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), which subsidizes such projects. However, the SNSF has now changed its conditions: It finances only work before printing on the condition that the texts after a certain time, for example two years, are accessible online. So, the SNSF confirms its strategic support for the #OpenAccess Strategy in the sciences. But, apparently unexpectedly for the SNSF, parts of the scientific community respond comparatively fierce and critical. The debate was also held in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ, see below) in the last weeks. Continue reading →