Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Programming Historian 2 Lessons I'd Like to See

I've been actively part of the Programming Historian 2 team for the past two years and I've been really pleased to see so many people using and learning from the site, including a number of university courses. I learned to write Python code from the original Programming Historian, and I still regularly reference skills and techniques found in the lessons in my day-to-day research.

My role as an editor of the project means I help guide lessons contributed by others through peer review and editing. I'm also always looking around the blogosphere for people working on cool new techniques or writing guides of their own that I think would be useful for practicing historians. For the most part this is a passive process. I sit, I wait, and I watch. But every once in a while I come across something I'd really like to see. So rather than wait, I thought I'd post my personal wish list of Programming Historian 2 lessons I'd like you to write for all of us.

In no particular order:

  • How do you turn a spreadsheet into a database and write custom queries? The jump from an Excel spreadsheet which you can see to a MySQL or sqlite3 database that you can't see is not an easy one. A lesson on making this leap would be well received and widely used I would imagine.
  • What the heck do you do with topic models? The entire digital humanities world seems fixated on topic models these days. Our most popular lesson by far is a tutorial on Getting Started with Topic Modeling and MALLET. But what are the cool things we can do once we HAVE generated topic models? What can we know? How do we use it responsibly? How do I interpret all these numbers and topics?
  • What can we do with our sources once they've been downloaded? I see so many people using programming to curate sources, but far fewer people asking historical questions of their sources using programming. What are some of the ways we can actually answer questions about the past with programming?
I'd be very happy to hear from anyone who'd like to take on these challenges and create a Programming Historian 2 lesson, or from anyone with an idea of their own they think others could benefit from. Check out our submission guidelines and be in touch.

1 comment:

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