Is the Ninja dead? No. But you deserve an update!

I’m not sure if anybody even realized I haven’t been posting lately but this is the longest hiatus we’ve ever had on this blog thus far. It was my normal practice to post pre-scheduled posts only every other week when on fellowships but now I totally went off the (WordPress) grid and I wanted to reconnect with you all. (And also, Easter greetings – if that’s something you care about!) As you might have imagined, I’m quite busy at the moment. I have some typesetting going on (my god, I’m not sure I will ever agree again to typeset a book that I’m also responsible for as an editor, it’s a crazy amount of work!), then I should finish my PhD thesis, I’m on a fellowship where I should finish a translation before heading off to the next fellowship which I hope I can actually get to because it’s in the US. So yeah, busy times. Although I have to

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The most important tip for confident LaTeX newbies: Don’t reinvent the wheel! (and try a Minimal Working Example instead)

Today I wanted to address a common issue I see in troubleshooting LaTeX errors, on StackOverflow and in personal questions. It usually stems from newbies who aren’t yet aware of all the functionality provided by standard packages and thus, try to reinvent the wheel when something doesn’t work the way they expect. Why reinventing the wheel is a problem In my experience, even from me helping people with packages that I’m not all that familiar with myself, it’s always best not to reinvent the wheel (even if you succeed, the result is likely sub-par unless you’re actually really good at what you’re doing). Ask yourself if the functionality you want is something that’s likely to be a common problem. Then maybe somebody has already solved it in a comprehensive way! That’s what packages are for and that’s why they’re (hopefully) maintained by people who have given the problem at hand a good bit of thought. It is very likely that

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Long-Term Twitter Strategizing: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 4

Twitter is an important professional networking platform for the Digital Humanities. But it’s not exactly self-evident how to make it work in your favour. This part explains long-term Twitter Strategy. This involves a few elements which might not seem so important at first but will be to keep your Twitter presence active and at a steady growth rate, without having to constantly put in lots of effort. This includes scheduled Tweets and using analytics and reflection to determine how to best cater to the interests of your followers. As some of you might remember, I did a Twitter Engagement Experiment at some time in autumn last year. Now I wanted to share my most important learnings, so you can make your Twitter presence more effective with just as little work as you want to put in. Actually, this was all just meant to be one post but it got so crazy long that I decided to make it into a

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Bio Engineering, Tweet Structure or How to lure your audience: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 3

Twitter is an important professional networking platform for the Digital Humanities. But it’s not exactly self-evident how to make it work in your favour. This part explains how you can improve the rate you’re gaining followers at by immediately providing them with reliable information about what value you provide for them. The best and quickest way to achieve that is by a one-time improvement session for your bio! If that’s not a life hack 😉 As some of you might remember, I did a Twitter Engagement Experiment at some time in autumn last year. Now I wanted to share my most important learnings, so you can make your Twitter presence more effective with just as little work as you want to put in. Actually, this was all just meant to be one post but it got so crazy long that I decided to make it into a series of digestible short posts. More Twitter Growth/Strategy advice 8) Set up your

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Retweet Bots and Hashtags: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 2

Twitter is an important professional networking platform for the Digital Humanities. But it’s not exactly self-evident how to make it work in your favour. This part explains all you need to know on retweet bots and hashtags. As some of you might remember, I did a Twitter Engagement Experiment at some time in autumn last year. Now I wanted to share my most important learnings, so you can make your Twitter presence more effective with just as little work as you want to put in. Actually, this was all just meant to be one post but it got so crazy long that I decided to make it into a series of digestible short posts. More Twitter Growth/Strategy advice 4) Use the power of (retweet) bots. During the last year, I have played around with bots or partly-automating retweeting on some Twitter accounts (like the epigrammetry blog’s Twitter) using bots. I created a feminist bot, a #100DaysofDH challenge bot, a #digiclass

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Improve your Twitter Strategy: The Ninja’s “How to better promote your content on Twitter” Guide. Part 1

Twitter is an important professional networking platform for the Digital Humanities. But it’s not exactly self-evident how to make it work in your favour. As some of you might remember, I did a Twitter Engagement Experiment at some time in autumn last year. Now I wanted to share my most important learnings, so you can make your Twitter presence more effective with just as little work as you want to put in. I will start with the basics and common advice you can find online in this first post and then add some more info and reflection on my personal experiment in the next one. Actually, this was all just meant to be one post but it got so crazy long that I decided to make it into a series of digestible short posts. This first one will start with the very Twitter basics and why you might want to start your own “Twitter Engagement” experiment. Am I back to

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“Learning LaTeX – Why should you care?” Series Part 1: Common Objections against learning LaTeX

Since some common objections why some people think learning LaTeX is not worth it or why the oppose LaTeX generally came up again in the Twitter discussion surrounding the recent post LaTeX for Philosophers? Logic and other Shenannigans, I quickly wanted to discuss the three most common objections agains LaTeX (in my experience) and why I think they’re not necessarily valid. Let’s get straight to it! 1) The “I can’t both be a good [insert job title/area of expertise here] AND spend time learning to code” aka the “LaTeX is hard to learn” objection A common argument used against LaTeX, not only in the Humanities, is “I already need all my energy being good at my job and now you want me to learn a new technology to distract me from it?”, like expressed in the following Tweet. But it’s really an extremely common one.  The argument is interesting to me because you also had to learn how to use

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LaTeX for Philosophers? Logic and other Shenannigans

Today, I wanted to share LaTeX resources for philosophers with you in a short post. I was included in a Twitter discussion yesterday about whether there wasn’t a post like that and I remembered there was – because a fairly long time ago I had been planning to write a post like that myself and already had a draft lying around in the depths of my WordPress account. So this is it, a short review of resources regarding the question: Should philosophers use LaTeX and what resources are there? Personal backstory which is totally irrelevant to the actual post: Funnily enough, one of my degrees is actually a Master’s degree in Philosophy, so you could say I know the field. However, I would think of my time at the Philosophy department more like a “field trip”, so to say. (Uh-oh, today is one of those bad-pun days.) I felt like getting to know the field to broaden my horizon or

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The question of questions: Am I ‘techie’ enough for (a) Digital Humanities (degree)?

For the last two years, I had the responsibility to mentor master’s degree students in the Digital Humanities or to advise those interested in a DH degree. Today I wanted to discuss the most frequently asked question and that is: “Am I ‘techie’ enough for (a) Digital Humanities (degree)?” and partly also “How much math is there in a DH degree?”. This is my Christmas present to you. I’m hoping to do something LaTeX-related again soon but LaTeX templates are currently a go-to relax thing for times when I really need relaxing. And feeling obliged to write about that takes the fun out of it for me at the moment, so sorry, yet another DH post for now. Let’s get straight to it. Part of this post consists of the text of an informational video I made in my responsibility as a mentor for the DH degree programm in Graz. You can watch the video instead, if you like. However,

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Where can I *actually learn* programming? (as DH and otherwise)

To my surprise, lots of people regularly ask me where I learned to program. I have lots of posts on the subject and even multiple categories on the blog concerning the topic but maybe they’re “too disguised” under obscure titles for willing learners to actually find them. So I decided to give you a short summary with the key takeaways of what I’ve written on the topic so far and the most important links – boths to my other detailled blogposts and also on the resoures I would recommend as of now. However, before the “short summary” of takeaways and suggestions for willing learners, let me start with a deep dive into the very personal side of the question “Where did you actually learn to program?”. Now where did I actually learn to code? To answer the question “Where did I actually learn to program?”, we need to talk about my journey first. And.. Well, in order to answer this

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I finally finished my own #100DaysofDH – Here’s the wisdom!

Like the title says, I finally finished my own #100DaysofDH challenge. And I haven’t kept my promise to you guys. I (think I) said I would continue blogging every second week but now I’ve left you hanging for a whole month! I’m so sorry. I will try to get back into a regular posting schedule (still reduced until the dissertation is done but I’ll try to at least post every once in a while). Anyways, as I’m nearing the end of my #100DaysofDH challenge (and having declared myself as the worst challenge founder ever in history), I’m starting to get philosophical and the wisdom is coming in. Since I couldn’t deprive you of that, here it comes. (It really isn’t that bad, actually!) Wisdom 1: Read error messages, it works! This one is kind of self-explanatory but once you’re in those long coding sessions, you sometimes forget to do the most obvious stuff. I just recently coded on some stuff

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Machine Learning for the Humanities: A very short introduction and a not-so-short reflection

Machine Learning is one of those hot topics at the moment. It’s even starting to become a really hot topic in the Humanities and, of course, also in the DH. But Humanities and Machine Learning are not the most obvious combination for many reasons. Tutorials on how to run machine learning algorithms on your data are starting to pop up in large quantities, even for the DH. But I find it problematic that they often just use those methods, just show you those few lines of code to type in and that’s it. Frameworks have made sure that ML algorithms are easy to use. They actually have a super-low entry level programming-wise thanks to all those libraries. But the actual thing about ML is that you need to understand it or it’s good for nothing. (Ok, I admit there are some uses which are pretty straightforward and don’t need to be fully understood by users, such as Deep Learning powered

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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 the following things on.

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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 I

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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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