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.
Digital History is a trend in Switzerland, too. But, its position is not yet a solid one. This becomes evident, if we check the program of the fourth edition of the Historical Days in Switzerland, June 9 to 11, 2016, in Lausanne. Only two panels explicitly discuss digital media and methods: Jan Hodel, Mareike König and Nadine Fink present cases of how historians work with social media. And Anne Jobin, Hannes Mangold, Stefanie Prezioso and Valérie Schafer present the power of algorithms in historical social practices as the dragnet investigation in Switzerland, the regulation of information in France and the search for episodes and their perception in the case of World War I. It will be interesting to hear the comment of Nicolas Cachereau and follow the discussion moderated by Enrico Natale and Christiane Sibille.
Shawn Graham, IanMilliganandScottWeingartjointlywritea bookon www.themacroscope.org: ExploringBigHistorical Data: TheHistorian’sMacroscope. Itdeals with thechances of digital toolsfor the humanities. And it asks aboutthe consequencesof the digitalfor understanding thepast and the present. The authors areconvinced thatfuturehistorical researchmustbeopenandpublic. They plan to print the book 2015 after arevisiondue to comments from (future) readers.
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 →
Now, if one accepts the basic thesis that the world is experienced, recognized and evaluated in the network of codes, […].
Flusser thinks history as a sequence of codes of an alphabetical order. This suggests a linear historical world. In contrast, Flusser sees the computer as a phenomenon of post-history. It dissolves structural oppositions such as subject and object, nature and culture. Now adays this Decentration is seen as a network phenomena. Continue reading →
2011, Penguin published a book with the promising title: „Virtual History“. There, Niall Ferguson presented 9 articles “towards a ‘chaotic’ theory of the past”. Exciting, the digital historian thinks, and begins to attack the introduction of almost 100 pages. Soon, he finds out that the book deals with questions as the following: What if Britain had stayed out of the First World War? What if Hitler had defeated the Soviet Union? So the point of the book is counterfactual history and not, as expected, virtual digital history. A close look on the circumstances of the publication makes it clear: Penguin has reprinted the book that has first been published 1997 – probably because the editor has become famous. 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 →
The intervention wants to make the audience familiar with questions about the current understanding of time and its consequences for history. It examines the assumption of HansUlrich Gumbrecht, according to which we live in a “broad presence”. For that, the intervention presents 4 Tableaux from which it structures the material  for three theses. Continue reading →
For a Workshop about Digital History held on May 13, 2014 at the University in Zurich, reports are now available, notably on HSozKult (in German). Here an English short cut of this report by Christina Rothen:
Friedrich A. Kittler, „Die Wahrheit der technischen Welt, Essays zur Genealogie der Gegenwart“, Berlin 2013
Remarks to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s Edition
Friedrich A. Kittler was a controversial scientist: His enthusiasm for technology, mathematics, psychoanalysis, and rock music and his delight in the eclectic speculation were suspect to many of us. But not to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: For him Kittler’s work is “idea and promise of a truth” to our technological world. As a history of technology, Kittler’s narrative of cultural history forms, perhaps, a figure of thought, which contributes to the “understanding of the digital present and future”. Gumbrecht, who is interested in the cultural consequences of digitization, therefore wants to expose the potential that lies in this work. Continue reading →
Digital technologies mediate research. They also change underlying epistemologies and ontologies. David M. Berry, Associate Professor/Reader in Digital Media, has been thinking about this. Here a short cut of his interesting article: Continue reading →
A brief summary and a few theories for the Digital Humanities
Hybrid culture correlates and fuses elements from different media, cultural contexts and discourses. The decisive factor here: Networks change the direction and speed of communication and information. They allow the creation of a public sphere simultaneously anywhere (to that, see my posts about the question of place and time in the Digital Humanities). What criteria should be used to identify and evaluate the medial construction of reality in its constant variability? Continue reading →