Join the BDHWG Summer Challenge Group

DH Working Group at DHSI in Victoria, Canada

DH Working Group at DHSI in Victoria, Canada

Summer usually means the time to ‘catch up’ and finally get cracking on those little side projects that often get pushed to the side during the year. Join the BDHWG working group on our DH Summer Challenge. Be part of a support group who will set concrete academic, DH, and professional goals and motivate one another throughout the summer.  Summer challenge is open to all, and our current group includes some DH friends from off-campus.

Open rules:
1. Set realistic, small, practical goals related to DH or general academia to be completed every two weeks. (Deadlines: July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 19)
2. Post your goals to this google doc and check off your accomplishments throughout the summer.
3. Motivate one another through the chat function on google docs (right side) or write comments in the ‘smiley face emoticon’ columns. Communicate on twitter with #bdhwgsummer
4. If you need the extra motivation, check off on the google doc that you will submit a $10 monetary commitment stating that you will work on your goals (lest have the money go towards a group victory money pot).

Join us for DH Picnic with RBMS, June 25th

Please join UC Berkeley Digital Humanists and Digital Humanities librarians from the RBMS conference for a “DH Picnic”

Thursday June 25, 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm, Memorial Glade

RBMS 2015 Banner: June 23 - 36 , Oakland & Berkeley, Preserve the Humanities! Special Collections as Liberal Arts Laboratory

The RBMS conference (Rare Book and Manuscript Section of the American Library Association) is coming for a day on the Berkeley campus June 25 and there is a picnic lunch outside Doe Library from 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm for conference attendees. We invite Berkeley DHers to bring their own lunch and gather with RBMS DHers for a casual lunchtime meetup to share ideas, discuss projects, and chat, etc.

UC Berkeley has an active DH community on campus, particularly our student-led Digital Humanities working group and our Digital Humanities at Berkeley initiative that supports DH activities campus-wide.   The RBMS conference is focused on the role of special collection libraries in supporting historical research and pedagogy in the humanities and brings together numerous DH librarians and archivists from around the country.

So, if you are interested in DH, grab your lunch and we will meet on the upper memorial glade (lawn next to Doe Library) on Thursday June 25from from 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm for a DH picnic!

4/24: Social Media & the Academy

Join the DH working group for our last meeting at 12PM and lunch at 1PM. Friday 4/24 at D-lab

Where do you live on the internet? How do you find your collaborators and peers? We’ll be discussing maintaining your web presence, ranging from the basic to the advanced:

  • Setting up a static website in 10 minutes ( Summer Challenge #1, stay tuned! ) and covering your bases
  • Twitter
    • Finding the DH community on Twitter, lists, and managing it all with the help of Tweetdeck
    • Livetweeting: Why & When | Upgrade your conference-going
    • Hashtag Discourses
  • LinkedIn: maintaining your network outside of the academy
  • Blogging (with practical tips from a special guest!)

Day of DH

Computational text analysis of captions for my research on Technique du peuple annamites a visual ethnography of Vietnamese material culture and everyday technology at turn of the twentieth century Hanoi

Cindy Nguyen’s Day of DH 2014 project: “Computational text analysis of captions for my research on Technique du peuple annamites , a visual ethnography of Vietnamese material culture and everyday technology at turn of the twentieth century Hanoi”

We’ll also be be discussing the upcoming Day of DH (May 19th).  During this “day in the life” event, digital humanists from across the world together document, with text and image, the events and activities of their day. The goal of the project is to weave together the journals of participants into a resource that seeks to answer, “Just what do digital humanists really do?”  View last year’s contributions from Bay Area digital humanists here, including working group members Scott Paul McGinnis , Cindy Nguyen , Quinn Dombrowski , Sharon Goetz , and Andrea Horbinski , as well as the DH at Berkeley recap .

Wrapping Up

This will be our last official meeting of the year.  We’d love to hear your feedback (either in-person or via email) about this year’s Working Group.  We’ll be presenting our year-end report and discuss some exciting plans for next year, including upcoming regional collaborations with our peers at Stanford.

Doodle: When should we have our end of year social?

Let’s celebrate a great year in DH at Triple Rock Brewery on Shattuck Ave.  We’re looking at the week of May 18th: !

DH Community Gathers for 3rd Berkeley Digital Humanities Faire

This post originally appeared on the Digital Humanities at Berkeley blog on April 15, 2015.

On April 7th and 8th, Berkeley’s digital humanities community gathered to share research and celebrate an exciting year of forging new collaborations.

On April 7th, the Library hosted a panel, “Digitally Supported Research and Pedagogy”.  Speakers included Edmund Campion, Professor in Music department and DH Fellow , Andrew Garrett, Professor in Linguistics, Alex Tarr a doctoral student in Geography and Mila Oiva, a visiting student researcher at the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Edmund, the director of the spoke about how his organization is attempting to address the preservation and access challenges surrounding non-print representations of music, an area where the library has traditionally struggled. Andrew discussed the Yurok Language Project , which makes Yurok-language materials accessible to people within that community, even if they are unable to travel to the physical archive on the Berkeley campus. Alex spoke on the evolution of the digital humanities projects he has worked on over the course of nearly a decade, culminating in the Living New Deal project. Mila reflected on the challenges of doing digital humanities in a discipline where archives can be very restricted, and very little is digitized. Mary Elings, Archivist for Digital Collections at the Bancroft Library, posed a series of questions to the panelists about how the library can better support digital research. While the panelists’ answers varied, there was unanimous agreement that continuing to digitize and provide access to content would itself be a significant contribution.

Zephyr Frank discusses vectorizing a map of Rio de Janeiro

Zephyr Frank discusses vectorizing a map of Rio de Janeiro

The Social Science Matrix hosted the second day of the event, which began with a keynote address by Zephyr Frank, professor of Brazilian History and Director of the Spatial History Project at Stanford University.  Sharing an older project, “Visualizing Space and Time in Rio de Janeiro—the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1850”, Zephyr reflected on the intensely collaborative nature of digital projects.  He reviewed the painstaking process of vectorizing a historical map of Rio de Janeiro, digitizing records, and cleaning data.  Zephyr also welcomed the use of digital tools for exploratory analysis: some visualizations will not be published in journals, but they may raise new questions or serve as a source of new intuitions.  Explanatory graphics can augment narratives or make them more immediate.  With the advent of open source tools and modern web frameworks, the barriers to doing digital research and sharing results on the web are now lower, but the imperative for working collaboratively remains the same.

The Landscape of DH

This theme of collaboration was repeated in the “Landscape of DH” panel, moderated by Cathryn Carson and featuring three inaugural DH Fellows: Elizabeth Honig (Art History) and Laurie Pearce (Near Eastern Studies), and Francesco Spagnolo (Magnes Collection).  The group reflected on recent developments on the Berkeley campus and offered advice for the next generation of collaborators.  Elizabeth Honig, Associate Professor of Art History and founder of the Jan Brueghel wiki, discussed the early stages of the project and her desire to unite the small pockets of knowledge held by various curators, private collectors, archivists, librarians, and academics, and unite it in a collaboratively-edited wiki format catalogue raisonne.  Her work led her to collaborations with NSF-funded scholars in computer science and mathematics at Duke University who are working on visual analysis algorithms.  Her current project, developing an open source platform for catalogue raisonné in Drupal, will involve working with staff at the Visual Resources Center. DH Faire Panel: Elizabeth Honig, Laurie Pearce, Francesco Spagnolo, Cathryn Carson

Laurie Pearce, Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies and co-director of Berkeley Prosopographical Services, echoed this delight in collaboration and how her approach to digital projects has been enhanced by technical review.  With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Matrix, and DH at Berkeley, BPS is currently working on generalizing their historical social network analysis tool (originally developed for a Cuneiform corpus) for use with any corpus. Pearce spoke fondly of ongoing collaboration with Patrick Schmitz, now Associate Director of Research IT, who posed the question, “How do you know what you know?” Taking the fine-grained knowledge bound up in the head of any corpus expert and translating it into a set of rules which can be understood and adapted by a computer program is no easy task.  The team will continue to survey the needs of prosopographical researchers through a series of prospecting seminars .

Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, also emphasized the benefits of cross-disciplinary introspection that the digital humanities invites.  Spagnolo noted that in his field, the question is often posed as: ‘What do digital humanities bring to Jewish studies?’  Instead, Spagnolo suggested turning the question on its head and asking what Jewish studies could do to make a richer and more nuanced field of digital humanities.

Poster Sessions

DH Poster Session from above

DH Poster Session

After the panel, guests were invited to browse current researchers’ work at a digital humanities poster session organized by the DH Working Group .  Borrowed from the STEM disciplines, poster presentations are increasingly used at digital humanities conferences  as a way to present research in a multi-faceted way that differs from the traditional form of the narrative.  Posters topics included computational text analysis of poetic meter, text analysis tools for archivists, geospatial analyses of 1896 Budapest and the Louisiana Purchase, and qualitative analysis of 18th century diaries.  See a more detailed list of presenters and topics here .

See additional photos and tweets or search for the event hashtag: #dhfaire2015.

Images by Quinn Dombrowski, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Save the Date! Berkeley DH Faire 2015

On April 7th and 8th, please join the Berkeley DH community for a special two-day Digital Humanities Faire . Over the past few years, the digital humanities community at Berkeley has grown exponentially across disciplines. This event will serve to connect established digital humanities scholars, interested graduate students, the libraries and support staff in discussions about methods, resources, and current projects. The poster session will be on April 8, 2015  Social Science Matrix, 8th Floor Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley and will be the culminating event of the two day faire. Please join us in conversation regarding the landscape and opportunities of digital humanities at UC Berkeley.

April 7, 2015 9:30-11AM | 180 Doe Library

A Panel Discussion on Digitally Supported Research and Pedagogy hosted by the Library.

April 8, 2015 3:10-6:00PM | Social Science Matrix, 8th Floor Barrows Hall

  • Keynote address by Professor Zephyr Frank, Department of History, Spatial History Project at Stanford University
  • A panel discussion on Landscape of Berkeley DH with Elizabeth Honig, Laurie Pearce, Francesco Spagnolo, moderated by Cathryn Carson.
  • Poster presentation of current digital humanities projects. Please RSVP here .

This event is co-sponsored by Computing and the Practice of History, the History Department, Digital Humanities at Berkeley (a collaboration between Research IT and the Dean of Arts and Humanities), Digital Humanities Fellows, the D-Lab, Social Science Matrix, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and the Library.

3/13: Intellectual Property, Open Access, and the Humanities

The era of digital publication and research has raised new challenges and opportunities for research in the humanities. While our ability to copy, reproduce, and distribute materials has greatly expanded, legal restrictions may prevent the aggregation, archiving, and large-scale (computational) analysis of those materials. Camille Villa will lead a discussion about developments in Open Access publishing in the humanities, fair use, large-scale cultural heritage aggregation efforts (HathiTrust, Digital Public Library of America, Europeana) etc.

Resources (for browsing; not required reading):

2/27: Daniel Viragh, Historical GIS

The Berkeley Digital Humanities Working Group is pleased to welcome Daniel Viragh, post-doctoral fellow at the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life and alumnus of Cal’s History Department.  Daniel will be presenting The Historical GIS Project , an ongoing work with a team of undergraduate research apprentices to build a historical geo-database of Budapest in 1896.  Working from the bottom up, the team digitized data from an 1896 map of the city and a book-length listing of the city’s commercial, industrial, and government resources.  Daniel will provide a brief overview of the multi-stage process of cleaning and mapping the data.  He will also discuss the research questions he addresses by working with geospatial analysis. Daniel Viragh

Researchers interested in pursuing this work are strongly encouraged to attend the following workshops at the D-Lab as well.  Read the DH at Berkeley blog for details :

  • Starting a Historical GIS Project , Daniel Viragh | 2/24 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
  • “Intro to Data Visualization in ArcGIS” and “Working with US Census Data”, Kelly Clonts
  • Georeferencing with ArcGIS, Susan Powell

UC Berkeley affiliates can obtain a one-year license for ArcGIS (Windows only) from the Geospatial Innovation Facility . D-Lab will be hosting a workshop for installing ArcGIS on a Mac in early March. Check their website later in the week for more information.

Daniel Viragh

Daniel is a historian by training. He earned his doctorate in history at Berkeley in May 2014, under the supervision of Professors John Efron and John Connelly. In his dissertation he explored how the Jewish population of Budapest adapted Hungarian language and culture for its own identity-related purposes in the late nineteenth century. During his dissertation research he often came across articles from competing newspapers that denigrated the readers and editorial staff of the competitor. Upon comparing the locations of the editorial offices he was intrigued to note that these offices were often only a few blocks from each other. He did not quite know how to analyze this information but he knew that it must be valuable in some context. Pretty soon this interest burgeoned into what is now the UC Berkeley Historical GIS Project.

News and Events

  • Thank you to everyone who attended the DH at Berkeley launch event at the Magnes!

  • DH Grants for Spring 2015 have been announced.  Explore the descriptions of collaborative research, new course, and new course component grants awarded this semester here .

  • Two works of Berkeley scholarship have been nominated for the DH Awards . Voting is open to the public until February 28th .

  • Interested in building a project site in Drupal?  Work on training and get help at the new Drupal Working Group or get your foundations Rochelle Terman’s 3-part “Basics of Drupal” workshop at the D-Lab, starting March 4th . See the DH at Berkeley blog for more information .

BDHWG Meeting: Daniel Viragh, The Historical GIS Project | February 27 | 12 – 1 PM | D-Lab Convening Room, 356 Barrows

The Berkeley Digital Humanities Working Group is pleased to welcome Daniel Viragh, post-doctoral fellow at the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life and alumnus of Cal’s History Department.  Daniel will be presenting The Historical GIS Project , an ongoing work with a team of undergraduate research apprentices to build a historical geo-database of Budapest in 1896.  Working from the bottom up, the team digitized data from an 1896 map of the city and a book-length listing of the city’s commercial, industrial, and government resources.  Daniel will provide a brief overview of the multi-stage process of cleaning and mapping the data.  He will also discuss the research questions he addresses by working with geospatial analysis.

Researchers interested in pursuing this work are strongly encouraged to attend the following workshops at the D-Lab as well:

  • 2/24: Starting a Historical GIS Project , Daniel Viragh

  • 3/9: Intro to Data Visualization in ArcGIS, Kelly Clonts

  • 3/9: Working with US Census Data, Kelly Clonts

  • 3/10: Georeferencing with ArcGIS, Susan Powell, GIS & Map Librarian

UC Berkeley affiliates can obtain a one-year license for ArcGIS (Windows only) from the Geospatial Innovation Facility .

Seminar: Cultural Data in the Age of Experience | February 27 | 3 – 5 PM | 107 South Hall

This presentation examines new paradigms for transforming digital cultural heritage archives into embodied experiences for cultural organizations. Using heterogeneous datasets representing intangible and tangible heritage, the research described integrated groundbreaking work in new museology through virtual environment design, interactivity, information visualization, visual analytics, and data mining.  The discussion comprises a series of seminal installations and permanent exhibits. Read more

Lecture : Mike Furlough, Executive Director of the HathiTrust, “HathiTrust, Collective Action, and Local Services” | February 26th | 9 AM | Doe Library 180

This talk is intended to provide an overview of HathiTrust and an opportunity to discuss how it can better support research and teaching at University of California, Berkeley. Since its founding in 2008 HathiTrust has aspired to build a sustainable program of collective stewardship for library collections in the United States and around the world. Mike Furlough will review the organization’s membership structure, services, and collections. The second half of the talk will highlight several major initiatives now underway, which are intended expand access to US federal documents, enable computational research across millions of digitized texts, and catalyze new collective action to manage the print record. Read more

Training Highlights


Geospatial Analysis:

  • 2/24 : Starting a Historical GIS Project

  • 3/9 : Georeferencing with QGIS

  • 3/9 : Working with US Census Data

  • 3/10 : Georeferencing with ArcGIS

  • 3/16 : Intro to Data Visualization in ArcGIS

Qualitative Methods:

  • 3/13 : From Coding Qualitative Data to Analyzing It

  • 3/19 : QMG Presents: Triangulating Across Qualitative Data Sources

  • 4/10 : Intro to Qualitative Data Analysis: Coding and Technology

  • 4/17 : Qualitative Data Analysis with Atlas.TI

  • 4/24 : From Coding Qualitative Data to Analyzing it


  • 2/27 : Exploratory Plotting and Data Analysis in R

  • 3/12 : Useful Stuff in R

  • 4/9 : R Graphics

Geospatial Innovation Facility

  • 2/23: Intro to Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Social Science Focus

  • 4/6: Intro to Open Source GIS: Working with QGIS

  • 4/20: Creating your own web maps

  • 5/20 – 5/22: Spatial Data Science Bootcamp (applications due 3/16)

Working Groups

Want to share something in the Week in DH?  Send an email to [email protected]

2/13: Project Lightning Talks

BDHWG is great place to workshop ideas, troubleshoot and try out new things in a supportive space.  Let’s check in and hear what folks are working on this semester with 5 minute lightning talks.

  • If you are interested in giving a lightning talk, please fill out this Google form no later than Wednesday at 12.00 pm
  • Lightning talks should be informal presentations of works-in-progress. Don’t worry about how “finished” your project is–it’s still very helpful to see early-stage projects
  • For presenters! Getting projects in front of a group early can get you critical feedback, help you troubleshoot problems, find peers, and get technical help
  • For everyone! Lightning talks are great opportunity to see what’s going on in the broader DH community


  • Each presenter has 5 minutes to present their work. NOTICE: There will be a hard stop at the end of five minutes
    • Co-conveners will warn you when you are have used up half of your time and when you are running out of time
  • After each talk we will offer about 3 minutes for the group raise questions that will hopefully spark future conversations
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have a PowerPoint presentation–visuals are nice, but not necessary
  • Please remember to mention the tools that you use so we can share them with the group

We’ll see you at the D-Lab convening room (356 Barrows) at 12 PM.

"Learn ALL the things!"

2/12: Ted Underwood (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign)

BDHWG and Computing and the Practice of History will be co-hosting Ted Underwood, computational literary studies extraordinaire, on February 12th. Trained as a Romanticist, Ted teaches 18th and 19th century British literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Ted maintains an active research blog, The Stone and the Shell . His research combines information science and literary criticism by applying machine learning algorithms to large digital collections. Some of his collaborative work is presented at The Uses of Scale in Literary Study .  His current project applies classification algorithms to enrich page-level metadata about genre in a collection of a million volumes.

Ted tells us, ” A theme I keep returning to is that humanists have alread teacup y integrated simple forms of text mining into their research; the question is no longer whether we’re going to do text mining, but how much control we’re going to have over the tools we use.”

We invite working group members to two special events on February 12th: a smaller seminar examining digital methods and research design and a brownbag talk on the relationship between quantitative social sciences and the humanities.

Quantitative Social Sciences for the Humanities: How Much Does “the Digital” Matter for Distant Reading?

Thursday February 12, 12:15-1:30PM | D-Lab Convening Room 356
Brownbag talk & Discussion | Please register here

The concept of digital humanities is so loosely defined that at the moment it tends to absorb a number of other debates. In literary studies, for instance, the projects of surface reading and especially distant reading are often conflated with “DH,” although computers play only a supporting role in much of this scholarship.

I want to consider this alignment of trends from two angles — acknowledging that it’s partly an accident of public perception, but also trying to tease out a more substantive underlying rationale for it. Using a couple of examples from my own recent collaborations, I’ll emphasize a curiously indirect but important way computers are contributing to the humanities right now: by making the quantitative social sciences more useful for humanists.

Digital Methods + Your Research: The Possibilities and Challenges of (Your) Digital Humanities Projects

Thursday February 12, 11AM-12PM | D-Lab Convening Room 356
Workshop | Please register

How do we actually go about fitting new digital methods into a literary article? Can we take our existing questions about literary history and just “add some digital tools to them”? Or do we really have to back up and change the way we’re framing our questions — in order to consider, for instance, a larger archive? If so, how realistic is that — especially for, say, grad students who can’t spend a decade preparing to write their first article?

In preparation for the discussion, please read the following short articles on digital methods using the case study of literary studies.

Cents and Sensibility
Theorizing Research Practices We Forgot to Theorize Twenty Years Ago