About Me

  • Historian of Science & Technology
  • Interdisciplinary Background
  • Interest in “Engaged” scholarship

Why Care about History? Why care about the Digital Age?

The World Out of Which We Come

The past is the world out of which we have come, the multitude of events and experiences that have shaped our conscious selves and the social worlds we inhabit. To understand how and why we live as we do, we cannot avoid appealing to the past to explain how andwhy we got to be this way. (Cronon 2000, p. 4)

Not just Fact but Story

It is remembering and storytelling we care about, not the raw past, because only by being perennially resurrected in the mind of each ne generation does the past become meaningful. Only this does it become a living memory which in turn gives meaning to our present lives by reminding us ho we are–as individuals, as a state and nation, as a people. (Ibid., p. 13)

A Digital Age


  • masses of data
  • tremendous participation


  • filtering data
  • trusting writers
  • lack of collective experience

Our Project

Understand how to write history for a digital age!

  • what can we preserve?
  • what opportunities are there for change?
  • what has been done already?


  • Intro to toolbox
  • but tools keep changing
  • therefore: simple coding, basic tools, as a foundation for later learning


  • still uncharted territory (no canon, quite)
  • 4 blocks
    • Text & Code | Basic programming literacy
    • Data Driven History | “Distant Reading”
    • Maps & Visualization | Basic Web-based GIS
    • Oral History & Crowdsourcing | Multi-media History


At the end of this course, you should:

  • be able to describe to others what the phrase “digital humanities” means to you.
  • be able to frame a coherent and nuanced argument of your own about the value of DH methods to the field of history
  • be able to clearly state and defend a position regarding “engaged scholarship”, and articulate the relationship of your argument to the contemporary media landscape
  • have a basic understanding of markup languages and their use in DH
  • be able to make compelling use of media materials such as audio, video, and animation in historical arguments
  • understand how to create simple historical maps, and have an opinion about the value of GIS in historical argument


Assignment Due Date Brief Description A B C D
Git & Github 2018-01-15 Mon version control and collaboration
HTML & CSS 2018-01-26 Fri web markup and presentation
Javascript for DH 2018-02-02 Fri intro to programming
Data-Driven History 2018-02-16 Fri CANCELLED x x x x
Spatial History 2018-03-02 Fri Simple GIS Web project    
Oral History 2018-03-16 Fri Multimedia Web Project
Project Proposal 2018-03-23 Fri Imagine a Digital History Project      


  • come every time!
  • pay attention and ask questions!
  • no email/youtube/reddit/facebook etc etc etc etc
  • participate in Slack!

Assignments 0 and 1!

You can find our first two assignments on the web here and here. Assignment 0 is due in a week and a half!

Intros 1

  • Find someone you don’t know
  • in 3 minutes, find out: Name; Year; Interest in the class; something else of interest
  • Present yr classmate

Intros 2

  • find a different stranger
  • spend no more than 8 minutes imagining a DH project
  • present to another pair


U of T Coders Software Carpentry Workshop!

January 18-19, Gerstein Library!


  • “Track Changes” on steroids
  • “version Control” software optimized for collaboration


Take out your Laptop!

  • Find yet another partner (work alone or help someone else if you’re very confident)
  • Navigate to the History-Please repository
  • Follow the instructions on the course website:
    • make an account
    • fork the repo
    • add some Candian history
    • submit your changes as pull request
  • When you’re done, we’ll check out the wonders of open source first hand