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Digital Humanities and Data Science

I'm proud to announce that Stanford University Library will be bringing on Scott Weingart as a data scientist to help support digital humanities scholarship here at Stanford. Scott is well-known in the digital humanities community for his work on information visualization MOOCs, courses on network analysis, editing the Journal of Digital Humanities issue focused on topic modeling, and work alongside other DH scholars to create The Historian's Macroscope, an online text that provides an exhaustive introduction to the particular flavor of digital humanities that involves bringing a computational lens to traditional humanities research questions. Regardless of the name of the position anyone gave to Scott, it's obvious that his support would be welcomed by digital humanities scholars. So, why data science, and not something a bit less science-sounding than, say, "digital humanities specialist"?

Spreadsheets are Information Visualization

Like most valuable human experiences, this all started on Twitter, when I used a tired meme to deliver what I thought would be considered radical to folks not involved with information visualization but rather pat to those that were.


This is part of a talk I gave at #txdhc. It leaves out "principles of interloping in network science" which I'll try to put in a later post.

When I was invited to give a talk at The Texas Digital Humanities Consortium's First Annual Conference about networks and specifically networks in the humanities, I asked myself the same thing I did when I was asked to write D3.js in Action: how can I speak on something for which I don't have a degree? How can I write a book about programming when I don't have a degree in computer science?

Similarly, how can I give a talk about networks when I don't have a degree in network science? Obviously, I have some experience with networks, such as my work representing topic models as a network.

The Day of DH

Today is the Day of DH, when digital humanities practitioners try to document what a "typical day" looks like in their engagement with digital humanities. There is an official site that hosts blogs from self-identified community members and which, due to technical difficulties, I can't currently contribute to. But that gives me a moment to list the various Stanford folks who are taking part in Day of DH and highlight their blogs:

Linguistics, Philosophy, & Textual Research Librarian Jacqueline Hettel's Day of DH

Digital Humanities Librarian Glen Worthey's Day of DH

Academic Technology Specialist Jason Heppler's Day of DH

Digital Humanities Research Developer Karl Grossner's Day of DH

Digital Humanities Specialist Elijah Meeks' Day of DH

If you are at Stanford and think of yourself as doing digital humanities scholarship, let me know and I will happily add you to the list.

What Makes a Minard?

The updated ORBIS is rapidly approaching completion, and with its finishing touches comes the need to describe some of the things that it does. Most of its new functionality, such as the routes or cartograms, are from the earlier version, though with much more control given to the user in their creation. But there’s a new option, which I’ve called a Minard Diagram, that produces an inky, snakey, arterial chart out of the ORBIS network. Here is a Minard Diagram for fastest routes from Athens to the rest of the Roman World.