Introduction to QGIS

I would love a beginner’s introduction to using QGIS if anyone knows how to use it and wants to teach it.  QGIS is a free Geographical Information System software.


Unstructured Data – storage, analysis and visualization of big data

Relational databases (RBDMS) have a well defined role to play in the digital humanities. It is recognized that the rows and columns of a well-designed database can provide valuable insight to data. However, as datasets continue to move towards the realm of “big data”, the overhead cost of processing complex indexes needed to support defined relationships becomes cost prohibitive. Asking relational databases to generate multifaceted reports over large datasets and perform intensive analytics detracts from the strength of RDBMS. Numerous tools are available today for working with unstructured data. These tools can work in conjunction with your existing tools and provide new insights to data and capabilities for understanding unstructured data (tools such as NoSQL, Hadoop, Graph databases, crowd-sourcing data, etc…). As these tools rapidly evolve, it would be helpful to discuss what solutions may have application to the humanities moving forward.


Potential Literature

If Zane Gray wrote business textbooks:

Obviously, these standards enter into the valley lilies; he knew himself in this country in our ideals and our policies for educating future business executive requires those fine qualities of mind that Oldring’s intimidations of the herd jest as Lassiter did.

If Milton rhymed:

And do they only stand By ignorance?
O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!
This Hell then seemed A refuge from those wounds.

If we wanted to review wine, but didn’t actually want to drink it:

Chateau St.Paul Pinot Noir Jamaica Plain 1987 Select
Unless you can put up with ambiguity, you’ll be mortified by this old standby of a Pinot Blanc. Needs cellaring until at least 2001.

Automatic text generation is interesting on a couple of different levels.  First, there’s just the sheer joy of surprise (e.g., a rock-and-roll band name like, “helpless spender and the dented senators”).  And how texts deform under the pressure of (re)generation might say something about the texts themselves.  And lastly, these methods suggest that semantic coherence may be non-computable, or not easily so.


Databases Before Digital

Among the many cultural heritage materials that are now in digital form are things that were organized as “data” in some sense even before they were digital: reference works, indexes, directories, concordances, censuses, inventories, card catalogues, etc. I’ve worked on several projects that make some use of such materials, and they present interesting challenges, practical and conceptual. If we make a database now from resources created by a historical bureaucracy, how much of that bureaucracy do we still have to negotiate? If others are interested, I would enjoy a conversation that could range from questions of what we can learn from how and why people organized “data” before digital methods, to what we can learn from media studies, and not least to what kinds of practical projects we might imagine. It would be especially interesting to try to bridge archival, library, scholarly, and technological perspectives. Whenever I browse the Internet Archive, for example, I’m struck by how much past effort of predigital “data modeling” (we might call it) is both available and hidden in ways that full-text search and text mining tools don’t begin to do justice to. What else?


Top Ten Topics for THATCampSTL

I’ve been reading all your registration blurbs and I decided to compile a list of the most recurring themes or comments I encountered. Here’s what I am calling our Top Ten Topics.

  1. Learning the basics of digital humanities
  2. Communicating and collaborating with others
  3. Talking about your specific projects (topics vary wildly and that’s awesome!)
  4. Scholarship and education on digital humanities for the classroom
  5. Oddball hacks/tools to make digital humanities easier
  6.  Understanding the needs of digital humanities/humanists
  7. Making our collections talk to one another
  8. Literature, literary history, and history in the digital humanities realm
  9. Specific tools/coding such as: OMEKA, TEI
  10. Institutional Repositories

How many of you are preparing sessions around these topics?


Session proposal: Digital Humanities Boot Camp for Subject Librarians

I have heard a need expressed among subject librarians and subject specialists for a “Digital Humanities Boot Camp” that would give attendees enough of a background/overview of digital humanities technologies, projects, etc., to talk about the current state of the field with interested faculty.  There are lots of examples of 2-3 day hands-on, immersive workshops, but the specific need I’ve heard described is more like a series of 1-2 hour sessions on overview topics.  During this session, I’d like to brainstorm ideas for inclusion & organize them into a logical format that any participant could take back and use as a roadmap for creating a boot camp on their campus.

To be clear, this is not a workshop where attendees will go through a DH Boot Camp!  This is a session to outline what ideas, technologies, and learning objectives a DH Boot Camp for Subject Librarians would need to cover.


And we’re off!

Registration for THATCampSTL is officially up and running. We can’t wait to see what our campers propose for session ideas.



THATCamp STL is being planned! The event will be hosted at Washington University in St. Louis. The date is November 9, 2013. More details will be published here when known. If you are interested or have questions, please contact us.

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