Easy and quick strategies to #scicomm your DH project

Your digital project is great, I’m sure of that – but does it even exist if nobody knows about it? Science communication is the answer to avoid this philosophical dilemma. In this short post, I wanted to share a list of quick and easy to implement ideas to add some science communication to your projects. This is just a short post to give you some ideas, not tutorials on how to do it. However, I am open to any tutorial requests you might have on the topics involved. As for the Twitter bot, there is a short post available already. So let’s get to it! Quick and easy strategies to #scicomm your DH project Create a better / thematic / facetted search interface. Maybe people aren’t using your data because the interface is not intuitive and they can’t find things or don’t know what to look for and where to look. This is the basic building block to build all

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Create your Tweepy/AWS-powered Twitter bot in a day

This post wants to convince you to try out creating a Twitter bot using Python Tweepy and AmazonAWS Lambda because it’s easy and fun. Of course, you can use any other utilities but Tweepy and AWS Lambda are the ones I tried. This is not a full tutorial but I can make one if anyone is interested. Inspired by the #100DaysofDH challenge In this post, I will just give you some basic Twitter knowledge, links for what you need to know to get it done and a link to the github of my #100DaysofDH challenge for which I implemented such a bot. If you want more guidance, please let me know. Also, read the post on the challenge because I noted down some restrictions I realized the Twitter automation guidelines impose on bots as I went along. In my example, I think I’m in fact doing one or two things which you actually shouldn’t do (I think bots shouldn’t like

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My experiences speaking at the online TeXUsersGroup Annual Meeting #TUG2020

Today I want to give you a quick update on what I’ve been doing – maybe a little bit as an excuse for why you haven’t been getting the usual amount of content from me. Apart from having lots of work to do, I did two talks at the (all-online) TeXUsersGroup Annual Meeting #TUG2020. And, of course, the two proceedings papers to go with it, appearing in the next issue of TUGboat. Stay tuned for that and consider joining your local TeX users group if you aren’t a member already! A Ninja and Noob revival Together with our friend the noob, we did a talk as a follow up to the initial guest post and our TUGboat contribution. It was about how folkx from the Humanities and non-technical backgrounds can be motivated and empowered into becoming part of the #TeXLaTeX community.   A talk on didactical reduction versus references In one of my first covid lockdown blogposts, I mentioned that

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Learning to program: How to master a programming language fast

I’ll write a summary about my experiences at this weekend’s TeXUsersGroup conference (#TUG2020) soon but today I wanted to share this post I had already prepared and scheduled: about ways to accelerate mastering a programming language. Of course, I can’t guarantee this will work for you and ‘fast’ is always relative. You can do a fast 3-day-binge but not really have mastered the language (obviously). Fast in terms of actual programming language mastery could mean a year or two, depending on your previous knowledge with programming. But enough of the disclaimers, let’s get to it! Learn as you go My first tip is to learn as you go, that means on the one hand that you jump into it without expecting from yourself to acquire all possible theoretical knowledge first. This ensures you get practice fast. It will let you use the language rightaway and only learn things you’ll actually use. That’s how I suggest you start using Linux by

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Transdisciplinary crossovers into the DH – The Don’ts and what can go wrong

Dear friends, today I want to illustrate some trans-disciplinary crossovers (into the DH) gone wrong. In earlier posts, I have already explained some of the dos (Looking at data with the eyes of a Humanist: How to apply digital skills to your Humanities research questions and Formulating Research Questions For Using DH Methods and What are ‘real’ Digital Humanities and how to get started?), so I assume I have you covered in that area. This is all very happy and positive – but I think I also owe it to you guys to give you an honest opinion of where you probably fucked up. It always hurts to learn these things and it’s more butterflies and rainbow-sprinkles to list all the empowering things you can do. But there are some traps as well and we don’t want you to fall into them. And if you already have, at least now you’ll have the closure to understand why you maybe have gotten rejected

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Does LaTeX count as “programming”?

Today I wanted to talk about a common question I come across: Does LaTeX count as programming? Many people dismiss this question directly with a no. But I say the answer is not that simple and depending on how you practice LaTeX can definitely be ‘yes’ much more than you might think! Also, something I really don’t appreciate is people meaning to  degrade LaTeX when saying using LaTeX has nothing to do with programming (because it does and most people who think that way have just never seen LaTeX being used more like programming). LaTeX is, strictly speaking, a programming language and Turing-complete. Or rather, LaTeX is a macro package for TeX which is the actual Turing complete programming language. The typesetting-specific tools LaTeX provides probably can’t, however, be considered a full programming language on their own anymore. You could theoretically do anything with it, though it might just not be the easiest possible way to accomplish your ends (unless

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Join the #100DaysofDH Challenge!

I have been following the #100DaysofCode community for a while now and thought that it was sad that there didn’t seem to be a connection with the DH community. 100 Days of Code is such a great project which is motivational for those willing to learn but also a great way to foster a community. So I thought, why not start #100DaysofDH and I did. Looking forward to your contributions! The main activity around this will be happening on Twitter (account is @100DaysofDH, hashtag #100DaysofDH) but there is also a minimalist github.io page: https://100daysofdh.github.io/  On the github, you can also find the current state of the Tweepy and AWS-powered bot. The story behind the creation of this challenge Before getting into the details of how the challenge works, let me share some thoughts that I had in mind for the adaption of the 100 days challenge to the DH (skip this part if you just want the rules which can

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Learning to program: Failing fast and error messages

Today I wanted to talk about error messages and why you should learn to love them. If your mission is to learn programming, they show you your weakness and tackling a weakness is always the fastest way to learn. This is why the whole discussion of fixing error messages quickly turns into a philosophical discussion of a way of life: Walking the  path of the Ninja requires you to fail fast, early on, and often. Let me tell you why… Should you care about error messages and warnings? Are they secret messages from the universe? Yes, they are. If you’ve never given a hoot about errors and warnings in your life, congratulations. I don’t either. That is, until the thing doesn’t compile anymore. I am at awe with respect for people who fix mistakes before they become a problem. But I’m not one of them. What does this mean, however, with regard to your attitude towards failure? It probably means

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News on the DH and Gender Equality

A few weeks ago, I posted The Computational Humanities and Toxic Masculinity? A (long) reflection   and didn’t know what reaction to expect. It would either be a shitstorm or get ignored, I assumed. It turns out, however, that the timing might have been just right, since I was contacted by the (informal) Turing Institute reading group – they wanted to discuss my blog post. I was honoured that they did and that I could participate. Here I wanted to share some new insights and reflection prompts this discussion has sparked for me. First things first: Thanks for everyone who participated! First of all, I was happy this discussion happened at all. That’s exactly the type of thing I had aimed for with the post, yet I was pretty surprised it actually happened. After all, you normally don’t always get you want. Maybe it’s that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. 😉 So anyway,

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LaTeX for Archaeologists: An archaeological catalogue using LaTeX

Like hinted in various Noob posts, our friend the LaTeX Noob once asked for help typesetting her archaeological catalogue using LaTeX. As it sadly happens to me quite often, I totally forgot about this and was reminded by a recent inquiry (don’t be afraid to ask if I forget to post something I once promised!). In this post, I wanted to share the reaons why you should use LaTeX to typeset an image-heavy catalogue and what to take into account when deciding how to implement it in LaTeX. General PhD typesetting advice One PhD thesis = 2 outputs In the post on LaTeX for PhDs, I have already laid out the most common and some more commonly overlooked advice on why you should use LaTeX for typesetting your PhD thesis. An important aspect is that your thesis will likely generate two outpts, the thesis and a book (hopefully). If you “hard-code” everything now, the transition won’t be as smooth as

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Looking at data with the eyes of a Humanist: How to apply digital skills to your Humanities research questions

In my recent post on how to get started doing DH, I basically said that the essence of being DH is looking at data with the eyes of a Humanist and gave some tips on how to get started in just 10 days. However, it’s not that easy. Learning digital skills and the problem of skill transfer A problem I see a lot is that H people fail to transfer their newly won practical DH skills to their own research questions. They don’t know how to look at their own material as data. They don’t know how to leverage digital methods to help answer their own research questions. But if it isn’t compatible with their own research, they’ll never deepen their knowledge enough to actually profit from their DH skills. If you don’t use them, they are forgotten quickly. So how do you make this transfer which I think is, so far, being neglected as a skill which has to

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The Computational Humanities and Toxic Masculinity? A (long) reflection

Today, I want to talk about the Computational Humanities discussion from last year and finally say something with regard to the gender issues in it. I called this post ‘Toxic Masculinity?’ and maybe that’s provocative to you. But maybe it also correctly describes a situation which could come to pass in the DH – a discipline which considers itself so forward-thinking – if we don’t take lurking issues seriously. So this is my reaction. Some disclaimers and considerations I wanted to respond to this discussion when it originally came up. Then I didn’t dare  to post it because I was kind of afraid there would be a bad reaction, especially as the slightly-shitstorm-like situation was still fresh and I didn’t want to offend anyone. So I didn’t and now it’s all kind of too late and not up-to-date anymore. But since the general subject is still relevant to me, I decided to use this Corona situation to write up this

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Learning Programming from Video Tutorials

In these times of corona crisis, I have been receiving many offers for online programming tutorials in my inbox, so I wanted to give my views on one type in particular, that is learning from videos. I’ll share what I think are pros of learning programming watching videos, as opposed to, for example, text-based tutorials like blog entries or books, or also in-person trainings. Pro: Learning by imitation or watching someone else do it at first is a natural way to learn Using video tutorials, you don’t need to run the code yourself to see its results, which is fair, I think, when just quickly going through a tutorial or you’re at the very beginning of your programming journey where even installing a new software might still seem daunting. Generally, you should experiment for yourself and try to tweak example programs but at the same time, you don’t need to overdo it for something you just quickly want to look

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Formulating Research Questions For Using DH Methods

In the feedback forms I did on the DH classes I have taught over the last years, I got one feedback I didn’t expect: People were extremely grateful I had practiced with them how to formulate valid research questions which, apparently, no one had ever (really) done with them before. I found that quite astonishing because the DH are all about methods and methods are like specizalized tools. You need to know what you can use them for. So here’s the crashcourse. The Hammer and the Nail I want to start off with an analogy. A hammer is a specialized but not an extremely specialized tool. You can use it for a range of tasks, however, not all tasks are going to work equally well. Some might work but would actually require a more specialized tool if you had one. You can really use the hammer on about anything and almost always, something is going to happen. For example, you

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