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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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.

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

10/27: Stuart Dunn (King’s College London) to Visit BDHWG

“Points, lines, cells, polygons: What does “data” mean to a humanist?”
a discussion with Stuart Dunn, King’s College London, co-hosted by the Berkeley Digital Humanities Working Group and DH @ Berkeley
Monday, October 27th, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

‘Data’ means something quite specific in computer science and social science, but for humanists it often means something much more complex. In archaeology for example, it corresponds relatively well to objects, finds, findspots, locations, grid maps etc; but to a literature scholar it might mean marked up text, concordances, and word counts. How do these different definitions of data inflect our workflows and our research? How might we respond to increasingly monolithic definitions of ‘data’?

Stuart Dunn is a Lecturer in Digital Humanities at and visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis . He is archaeologist with wide ranging interests in digital methods and spatial humanities. His current projects include spatial narrative theory, Cypriot cultural heritage and the archaeology of movement. Stuart gained a highly interdisciplinary PhD on Aegean Bronze Age chronology from the University of Durham in 2002, conducting fieldwork and research visits in Melos, Crete and Santorini. Having developed research interests in GIS, he subsequently became a Research Assistant on the AHRC’s ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme, and in 2006, moved to King’s to become a Research Associate at the Arts and Humanities e-Science Support Centre, after which he became a Lecturer. Stuart leads numerous projects in the area of visualisation, GIS and digital humanities. You can find his blog at http://www.stuartdunn.wordpress.com.

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image credits: (1) (2) Matthew Lincoln, “ Networks of the Smithsonian American Art Museum ” (3) “Sanitary and social chart of the Fourth Ward of the City of New York, to accompany a report of the 4th Sanitary Inspection District”, IMG: 5056960 from The Lionel Pincus & Princess  Firyal Map Division, NYPL, (4)

9/15 Recap: Building a DH Syllabus and Hacking Days

Introducing the Working Group [ ]

We were happy to see a good mix of undergraduates, graduate students, visiting scholars, staff, and post-docs from a variety of backgrounds at the working group and weighing in our activities for the semester. We’ll be rolling up our sleeves to work with pedagogy and build our technical skills.

Credit: Elijah Meeks , “ What is DH?

It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for digital humanities on campus. To stay updated on DH infrastructure developments on campus, be sure to visit DH @ Berkeley and follow @DHBerkeley at Twitter.

Project: A Collaborative DH Syllabus

Several participants noted that we often discuss DH in terms of projects and tools, but were curious about how to teach DH.  Should a Digital Humanities 101 course focus on method or theory?  What resources already exist for teaching DH?  Together, members of BDHWG will be working on gathering materials, creating modules, and discussing pedagogy for an introductory digital humanities course.

BDHWG Zotero Library

We’ll be using our Zotero group library to curate readings. The library is a public, open library , so anyone can join and contribute materials. If you contribute something, please remember to attach a note with your name and a brief explanation of why you added it. Currently, the library is organized into Method, Tools, and Theory. Once you join the group, you should be able to see the library in your Zotero client. (screenshot).

If you’re not familiar with Zotero, a free open-source citations manager, we highly suggest attending David Eifler’s D-lab workshop on September 24th . Additionally, we can get you set up with Zotero at hacking day.

9/29 – Teaching DH: Exploring the Current Literature on DH

To kick off the syllabus project, we would like to open with a discussion about digital pedagogy. We invite members to bring in some article, project, or tool that they would like to share with the group. We’ll send out a suggested list of readings early next week. Can’t wait until the 29th? Feel free to start a discussion on Twitter with the #bdhwg hashtag:


Hacking Days

In the past, BDHWG meetings has featured a mix of the theoretical and practical. This semester we’ll be holding regular (but informal!) ‘hacking days’ at the D-Lab, Mondays 1 – 2 PM. At these ‘peer office hours’ you can work on tutorials, troubleshoot tools, or BYOP (bring your own project).

9/22: BCE Installfest with Dav Clark

While working through Laura K. Nelson’s tutorial on topic modeling in R , a few of us encountered some compatibility problems with the ‘topcmodels’ package. Dav Clark will be helping us get set up with the Berkeley Computing Environment (BCE). This will make it easier to kick up tutorials on Python and R and ensure that we are working with a similar set of tools at future workshops and hacking days.

Not sure where to start? Try these out:

Confirmed Events ( ):

  • Hacking Days (9/22, 10/6, 10/20, etc,)
  • Teaching DH: Exploring the Current Literature on DH (9/29)
  • Database Design + MySQL – Harrison Dekker (10/13)
  • XML and Its Uses – Scott Paul McGinnis (11/17)

Training at D-Lab

Additional Resources:

First Meeting: Monday, September 15th @ 1 PM

The Berkeley Digital Humanities Working Group will be meeting on Monday, September 15th from 1 -2 PM at the D-Lab’s Convening Room (356 Barrows). Everyone is welcome regardless of disciplinary or technical background.

Let’s discuss this semester’s agenda and make sure that we address the topics that are most relevant to you! For those who are new to digital humanities, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite DH projects and tools. In addition to our regular meetings, we’ll be organizing informal “hacking days” to develop technical skills and work on projects together.

Fall 2014 Meeting Topics:

  • Managing your online presence, Connecting to the DH community on Twitter (9/29)
  • MySQL and database design (10/13)
  • XML: text encoding and transformation (Nov.)
  • Data management (TBA)
  • Network analysis (TBA)

Events of interest:

Training: