Diagnostic tools – or – the pretty visualization is not the end

As the semester and my first graduate digital history class wind down, I’ve been thinking a lot about building DH things for investigation vs. argument.  There’s a lot of good work on tools-as-theory, and whether a digital thing can be a satisfying argument, and an upcoming conference on argumentation in the digital humanities – so I’m not the only one. I also just finished writing 1-2 pages – maybe 1,000 words – based on a…

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d3.js + R > Gephi (or, why network analysis helps with history)

Gephi is a very useful tool.  I’m very much looking forward to the new release that seems always on the horizon.  In the meantime, though, every time I open Gephi it crashes, and then I dive down a long rabbit hole of trying to re-write the program code, and then I get angry and go home.  So I’ve been delighted to find that a combination of R (for manipulating and analyzing the data) and d3.js…

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Famine data

One of the secondary questions of my research has been what themes in famine reporting were dominant among all famine reports in different locales.  What, for instance, was the most common framework for famine reporting in New York in 1847, and how did that differ from the frameworks employed in Britain, the American South or Indian Territory.  I’ve tried a few really clunky ways of representing this, by tracking the number of iterations of certain…

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“Are you a math person? You look like a math person.”

Having submitted my dissertation for review, I find myself with some time on my hands.  While many people have suggested that this would be an opportune moment to relax my father, who is also an academic, suggested that it merely freed up time to begin new projects! Write articles! Learn new skills!  Having taken one morning off this week to drink cocoa and read a novel, I think I’m all done relaxing and ready to…

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The more [history] you learn, the more [history] you see

  I’ve been throwing out variations on this line since I first saw this strip, and I’ve been having quite a few “the more history you learn…” moments in the past few weeks because of the hurricane. On Saturday, the Press of Atlantic City reported that NOAA classified Sandy as a post-tropical cyclone right before it made landfall in NJ, a decision which is estimated to save homeowners/cost insurance companies millions of dollars in deductibles. …

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