March 28, 2016

Welcome to the Programming Historian Blog!

The editorial board of The Programming Historian is thrilled to welcome you to our blog—or perhaps more accurately, to welcome you back to our blog. The PH blog has previously been used to provide readers with the occasional update or to promote PH related events. In the coming months, you can expect regular posts in this space with material that complements and expands upon the growing body of lessons that form the heart of The Programming Historian.

Currently, The Programming Historian’s content focuses on lessons that explain how to gain skills in some of the bedrock tools that digital humanists use in their research. Interested in learning how to distant read a huge corpus of born digital or digitized documents? Want to learn how to efficiently extract specific kinds of data from websites? Care to learn how to use the command line to control your computer and research files with greater precision? Or maybe you’d like to get your feet wet with Python, one of the most widely used and versatile programming languages around? The Programming Historian can help you with all of this and more.

While individuals who are already steeped in the digital humanities may find themselves on PH because they already know they’d like to learn a particular skill, those who are just learning about the digital humanities might be less sure about how or why PH could be a valuable resource for them—particularly those who do not self-identify as “programmers.” The revitalized PH blog seeks to bridge the gap between script writing, data mining, code wrangling scholars, and scholars who are just beginning to learn about the different ways they can use digital methods to conduct their research, present their research to wider audiences, and inform their teaching.

In keeping with the spirit of introducing the revitalized PH blog, I’d like to introduce myself and say how thrilled I am to have recently joined the PH editorial board. My name is Evan Taparata, and I am a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Minnesota, where I am writing a dissertation about the history of refugee law and policy in the United States over the long nineteenth century. Before joining PH, I’ve explored my interest in the intersection of public history and digital humanities by working with my UMN colleagues on two Humanities Action Lab initiatives: the “Guantánamo Public Memory Project,” which examines the history of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and “States of Incarceration”—launching in April 2016—which explores the past, present, and future of mass incarceration in the United States. I am interested in cultivating the PH blog as a resource for educators who would like to learn more about using digital humanities methods and tools in the classroom, and I am especially invested in using the blog to explore how digital methods can help students do innovative and original historical research that reaches beyond academia and engages public audiences. I am very excited to work toward achieving this goal with the support of my fellow PH editorial board members.

What Will Be the Focus of the Blog?

Readers can expect several types of posts on the Programming Historian blog. First, we encourage posts from individuals who have learned a skill using one of PH’s lessons. In these posts, authors will reflect on their experience working through the lesson and describe an example in which they used their new skill in their teaching, research—or both! Second, we encourage posts in which authors describe how they’ve incorporated the digital humanities, broadly defined, in their teaching. Have a particular assignment that worked really well? Have you recently taught a digital humanities class and want to reflect on what you and your students learned? Are you currently using digital humanities methods to help your student engage in public scholarship? We’d love to hear from you. Third, we encourage posts in which contributors reflect on recent digital humanities events, discuss the current “state of the field” in digital humanities, or offer perspective on ways to widen the accessibility and reach of the digital humanities for academics, students, and the general public alike.

In short, this blog will be a space where individuals who are interested in the digital humanities but who do not self identify as “programming historians,” can contribute their voices, experiences, and perspectives to the growing community of scholars using digital methods to enhance their research and teaching.

How You Can Contribute

We are eager for guest contributors from all ranges of academic life and all degrees of experience with digital humanities.

If you’d like to contribute, know someone who’d like to contribute, or want to talk about an idea for a blog post, please feel free to reach out to me directly. You can send me an email at tapar001@umn.edu, or you can find me on Twitter at @etaparata. On behalf of the PH editorial board, we look forward to hearing from you!

About the author

Evan Taparata is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Minnesota.