Category Archives: Tools

Using Twitter Lists

As I mentioned in class yesterday, I’ve created a Twitter list for this course so that you can easily find your classmates (and me!) on Twitter.

Unfortunately, I also misinformed you about the way that Twitter lists work. You can subscribe to a list, but doing so will not make tweets from this list show up in your timeline. Instead, to see the lists you’ve subscribed to, you have to click on “Lists” from your timeline page when you log in to Twitter, as explained in this how-to gallery. Following someone directly is the only way to ensure that their lists show up in your Timeline.

Many people actually view this as a feature of lists, since it means that you can sort of “follow” many more people than you actually see in your timeline. For example, here are some other lists curated by digital humanities and digital history people. Try subscribing to some and check in on the list from time to time this semester; you may find conversations happening that touch on our readings or projects in class!

And remember, unless you click through to the RiceDH list, you won’t see tweets of class members on your timeline (unless, of course, you choose to follow them directly).

Twitter Tips

Your first homework assignment requires you to create and use a Twitter account. If you’re just getting started with Twitter, that could be confusing! Here are some links that should help: Continue reading

Paper Machines Debriefing

I hope you enjoyed playing around with Paper Machines in our workshop with Jo Guldi. As promised, here’s a brief summary of how I constructed the corpus we used for our visualizations. I’ll follow that with some of the visualizations you made, and invite you to comment on what you see that’s of interest.

Continue reading

Jo Guldi at MITH

To learn more about the beginnings of Paper Machines and the uses of text mining and visualization for historians, you can check out Jo Guldi’s recent talk at MITH in Maryland:

Topic Modeling Workshop: Guldi and Johnson-Roberson from MITH in MD on Vimeo.

Historian’s Toolbox: Zotero

This week’s speaker, Jo Guldi, will be talking to us partly about a new Zotero extension called Paper Machines that she helped to build. But what, you may ask, is Zotero?

Zotero is a bibliographic management program developed at Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. It makes it easy to manage citations and keep notes together for a research project. As we’ll see later this week, however, it’s also much more. Because the code for Zotero is open source, end users and interested programmers can help extend its functionality, and Paper Machines is a case in point.

Aside from all that, it also just makes formatting bibliographies and citations dang easy (hint, hint to you honors thesis writers in the class!). If you haven’t been exposed to Zotero before, here a few posts that can help get you started:

The Digital Media Center at Rice also usually offers a workshop on Zotero at the beginning of each semester, and you can find a useful tutorial handout on their website.

See you Thursday!

More on Twitter

It’s great to see some of you from the Masterclass on Twitter! If you haven’t noticed from following our hashtag (#ricedh), you can now follow Christina (@QVillarreal), Whitney (@whitney_nell), Sophie (@SophieHaase1), John (@johngmarks), Kelly (@kbweber), and Ben (@benjamingwright) on Twitter. Let me know in the comments if there are any of you missing from this list. (Ed.–You can also follow Wright.)

Speaking of Twitter, there was apparently a big discussion last weekend about the uses of social media at academic conferences, and in response Kathleen Fitzpatrick (who has been mentioned on this blog before) posted a good run-down of advice about academic tweeting. I think this paragraph is especially worth highlighting:

Use your blog/twitter/whatever professionally. This ought to be completely obvious, of course, but the key here is to really think through what professional use means in an academic context. In our more formal writing, we’re extremely careful to distinguish between our own arguments and the ideas of others — between our interpretation of what someone else has said and the conclusions that we go on to draw — and we have clear textual signals that mark those distinctions. Such distinctions can and should exist in social media as well: if you’re live-tweeting a presentation, you should attribute ideas to the speaker but simultaneously make clear that the tweets are your interpretation of what’s being said. The same for blogging. The point is that none of these channels are unmediated by human perspective. They’re not directly transmitting what the speaker is saying to a broader audience. And the possibilities for misunderstanding — is this something the speaker said, or your response to it? — are high. Bringing the same kinds of scrupulousness to blogging and tweeting that we bring to formal writing are is key. [Edited 12.55pm. Bad English professor!]

What do you think about the potential for and challenges of Twitter and blogs at academic conferences? Feel free to share in the comments or on, er, Twitter!

The Historian’s Toolbox: Twitter

On the first day of class, I encouraged anyone interested in learning more about digital history to create a Twitter account.

To be sure, as Whitney (and Tim Gunn) reminded us today, Twitter alone does not a digital humanist make. But if not everyone on Twitter is a digital humanist, many digital humanists are on Twitter. As Ryan Cordell (@ryancordell) explains in How to Start Tweeting (and Why You Might Want To), “Twitter can help academics make and maintain connections with people in their fields, find out about interesting projects and research, or crowdsource questions and technical problems.” This is especially true in the field of digital humanities.

Consider opening a Twitter account for the purposes of this Masterclass, even if you decide to delete the account at the end of the year. Doing so can be valuable even if you don’t actually tweet. One of the medium’s advantages, as Natalie Houston (@nmhouston) recently put it, is the fact that you can follow conversations even without jumping in.

Here are a few things you can do to make Twitter an effective tool for this course:

  • Follow individual historians. I’m at @wcaleb, and all of our speakers are also on Twitter. (See the schedule for their Twitter handles.) From time to time on this blog I will also mention digital humanists who are on Twitter, as I have in this post and in an earlier one about Cameron Blevins, who is at @historying. Checking the sidebar on this page will introduce you to the accounts of people who are in this class. You can also find historians on Twitter by browsing through this ever-growing list. Once you’ve created an account, you can also look at lists like these that others have created, or you can click on the “Discover” tab, choose “Browse categories,” and then enter “digitalhumanities” in the search box.
  • Follow hashtags. A hashtag is just a keyword preceded by the pound sign, which people put into individual tweets to connect them to larger conversations. So, for this course, follow the hashtag #ricedh. Another good one to try is #twitterstorians.
  • Tweet or retweet interesting finds. If you find an article or a conversation that seems relevant to something from our course, try tweeting or retweeting it, adding the hashtag #ricedh when you do so. That way the tweet will show up on this homepage’s sidebar, and others following our hashtag will see it as well.

If you have questions about Twitter, you’re probably not alone. Just put them in the comments!

The Historian’s Toolbox: RSS

In this course, we will be exploring recent work in digital history. But as you will soon discover, that field is incredibly broad and wide-ranging, especially if you define “digital history” (as we will) as work that seeks to use computers and digital media either to conduct historical research or to communicate its results.

Keeping up with a field this large may seem like it requires an historian to Research 24/7, as William J. Turkel puts it. Fortunately, however, there are ways to keep tabs on what’s being said by digital historians even while you’re sleeping and doing non-scholarly things. And it all happens, as Turkel explains, through the magic of RSS.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a technology that allows you to subscribe to feeds of online information that are tailored to your interests. If you have a Google Account, you already have access to a good RSS feed reader. To make it work for you, simply subscribe to feeds like Digital Humanities Now or the personal blogs of individual digital historians like our speakers. You can usually tell that a page has an RSS feed by looking for a little symbol like the ones that appear above the sidebars on this page.

RSS is also the technology that I’ve used to generate the lists of recent tweets and links that you see on the right. To make the sidebar to the far left, I used a WordPress Widget for RSS and pointed at this URL:

That feed pulls any tweets that contain the words “twitterstorians” or “ricedh” (our hashtag for the course) into the sidebar of this site. Similarly, the sidebar labeled “Recent Pins” is generated from the RSS feed for this page, which contains all links saved on Pinboard with the tag “digitalhistory.” The Pinboard How To page explains how you can turn virtually any Pinboard page into an RSS feed. The feed I used looks like this:

Still a little lost? Check out this Gentle Introduction on RSS. Then, try this on for an assignment: can you figure out how to make a tweet or link appear on this homepage using your own Pinboard or Twitter account?