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Cambridge Digital Humanities

Cambridge Digital Humanities course timetable

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Sat 1 Apr 2023 – Mon 26 Feb

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April 2023

Mon 24
CDH Methods | Machine Learning Systems: a critical introduction new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, IT Training Room

This in-person workshop will provide an accessible, non-technical introduction to Machine Learning systems, aimed primarily at graduate students and researchers in the humanities, arts and social sciences.

Key topics covered in the sessions will include:

  • Situating Machine Learning in the longer history of Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning system architectures
  • The challenges of dimension reduction, classification and generalisation
  • Sources of bias and problems of interpretation
  • Machine Learning applications and their societal consequences

During the session participants will be encouraged to work through practical exercises in image classification. No prior knowledge of programming is required. Participants wishing to run the experiments for themselves will need access to a laptop, but no special software is required, just an up-to-date web browser and an internet connection. We will be using Google Colab for the text generation experiments which you have access to via your Raven log-in. The image classification experiments will require a GitHub account ([sign up here https://github.com/])

May 2023

Wed 10
From Corpus to Context: Word Embeddings as a Digital Humanities Research Methodology new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Speaker: Mark Algee-Hewitt, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Stanford Literary Lab.

About this Methods workshop

At the heart of many of the current computational models of language usage, from generative A.I. to recommendation engines, are large language models that relate hundreds of thousands, or millions, of words to each other based on shared contexts. Mysterious products of complex modelling algorithms, these objects raise a number of practical (and ethical) questions for Humanities scholars: How are these language models created? What kinds of relationships does their math encode? How do biases in the corpus affect the model? And how can we effectively use them to answer humanities-based questions?

In this workshop, we will explore these questions using a medium-sized language embedding model trained on a corpus of novels. Using approachable code in the R software environment, participants will learn how to manipulate a model, assess similarities and difference within it, visualise relationships between words and even train their own embeddings.

Wed 24
‘Out of the Shadows’: A Wikipedia edit-a-thon new Finished 10:00 - 16:30 Cambridge University Library, CDH Lab

This month we are calling on the expertise of students and staff here at Cambridge to bring underrepresented histories ‘out of the shadows’ and into the light on Wikipedia.

No prior Wiki experience is required! We will host an online training session at 11am on 17 May to get you started. This session will also be recorded and made available.

On 24 May we will host our edit-a-thon at the University Library. This drop-in event will allow you to access support throughout the day to help improve and expand Wikipedia’s content. Hosted jointly by Doing History in Public, Cambridge University Libraries, and Cambridge Digital Humanities, with the assistance of Wikimedia UK, we hope to get as many new pages created and edits made as possible. Refreshments will also be provided to fuel your efforts.

If you cannot be in Cambridge on 24 May, we will also do our best to enable you to interact remotely. You can also follow updates on Twitter via the hashtag #OOTSwiki.

October 2023

Wed 25
CDH Basics: Designing a digital research project new Finished 09:30 - 10:30 Cambridge Digital Humanities Online

This CDH Basics session explores the lifecycle of a digital research project across the stages of design, data capture, transformation, and analysis, presentation and preservation. It introduces tactics for embedding ethical research principles and practices at each stage of the research process.

  • Introduction to the digital project life cycle
  • Ethics by design and EDI-informed data processing
  • Data and metadata - definitions
  • Basics of data curation (good practice in file naming, version control)
  • Understanding files and folders

November 2023

Wed 1
CDH Basics: Acquiring data for your project new Finished 09:30 - 10:30 Cambridge Digital Humanities Online

This session provides a brief introduction to different methods for capturing bulk data from online sources or via agreement with data collection holders, including Application Programme Interfaces (APIs). We will address issues of data provenance, exceptions to copyright for text and data-mining, and discuss good practice in managing and working with data that others have created.

  • Data collection methods
  • Introduction to working with APIs
  • Data brokerage
  • Provenance and integrity
  • Assessing intellectual property, copyright and Data Protection issues
  • Documentation of collection methods
Mon 6
CDH Methods: First Steps in Coding with Python new Finished 14:30 - 16:30 Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages - Room 142

Convenor: Dr Estara Arrant (Cambridge University Library)

This session is aimed at researchers who have never done any coding before. We will explore basic principles and approaches to navigating and working with code, using the popular programming language Python. Participants will use the Jupyter Notebooks platform to learn how to analyse texts. This will provide participants with a working foundation in the fundamentals of coding in Humanities research. The software we will use is free to download and compatible with most computers, and we will provide support in installation and setup before the class.

Wed 8
CDH Basics: Transforming your data new Finished 09:30 - 10:30 Cambridge Digital Humanities Online

Data which you have captured rather than created yourself is likely to need cleaning up before you can use it effectively. This short session will introduce you to the basic principles of creating structured datasets and walk you through some case studies in data cleaning with OpenRefine, a powerful open source tool for working with messy data.

  • Structuring your data
  • Cleaning messy textual data with OpenRefine
  • Batch processing file names
Mon 13
CDH Methods: Virtual and augmented reality as new material for teaching, learning and research new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Convenor: Dr Eleanor Dare (CDH Methods Fellow)

This Methods Workshop will invite participants to originate innovative research methods using virtual and augmented reality technologies underpinned by theoretical and pedagogic understandings. The session is conceived in recognition of an increasing interest in using virtual and extended reality (VR and XR) to create collaborative research spaces that span different locations, time zones, and spatiality. Such spaces might be used to investigate the impact of design, architecture and location on education or new ways to teach an array of subjects, from language to mathematics to performance, AI ethics and music.

About the convenor: Eleanor is currently the Co-Convenor for Arts, Creativity and Education at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, they are also the Senior Teaching Associate: Educational Technologies, Arts and Creativity, lecturing and supervising on MPHIL Arts, Creativities and Education, MPhil Knowledge, Power and Politics, and MEd Transforming Practice. Eleanor is module lead for AI and Education, a Personal and Professional Development course at Cambridge.

Eleanor Dare’s research addresses the implications of digital technology and virtuality as a material for collaboration, critical-educational games development, performance, worldbuilding and pedagogic experimentation. Eleanor has been involved in several AHRC/EPSRC/ESRC/Arts Council/British Council funded projects investigating aspects of virtual and extended reality as well as projects with the Mozilla Foundation (AI-Musement/Monstrous 2022-2023), Theatre in the Mill Bradford (Bussing Out, 2022) and the Big Telly Theatre Company (via the Arts Council of Northern Ireland) for Rear Windows, forthcoming.

Wed 15
CDH Basics: Analysing and presenting your data new Finished 09:30 - 10:30 Cambridge Digital Humanities Online

The impact of well-crafted data visualisations has been well-documented historically. Florence Nightingale famously used charts to make her case for hospital hygiene in the Crimean War, while Dr John Snow’s bar charts of cholera deaths in London helped convince the authorities of the water-borne nature of the disease. However, as information designer Alberto Cairo notes, charts can also lie. This introductory Basics session presents the basic principles of data visualisation for researchers who are new to working with quantitative data.

  • Principles and good practice in data visualisation
  • Basic introduction to quantitative methods of data analysis
‘Out of the Shadows’: A Wikipedia edit-a-thon new (1 of 2) Finished 11:00 - 13:00 Cambridge Digital Humanities Online

After the fantastic success of our last Wikipedia edit-a-thon in May, we are once again calling on the expertise of students and staff here at Cambridge to bring underrepresented histories ‘out of the shadows’ and into the light on Wikipedia.

No prior Wiki experience is required! We will host an online training session at 11am on 15 November to get you set up.

On 22 November we will host our edit-a-thon at the University Library. This will be a drop-in event where you can access support throughout the day to help improve and expand Wikipedia’s content. Hosted jointly by Doing History in Public, Cambridge University Libraries, and Cambridge Digital Humanities, with the assistance of Wikimedia UK's 'Connected Heritage Team', we hope to get as many new pages created and edits made as possible. Those who can join us for the day on 22 November will receive a free voucher to use in the UL Tea Room on the day!

If you cannot be in Cambridge on 22 November, we will do our best to enable you to interact remotely. You can also follow updates on Twitter via the hashtag #OOTSwiki.

Mon 20
CDH Methods: Primary data collection from online platforms: inclusive approaches new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

This Methods Workshop explores primary data collection using digital and online qualitative methods. Teaching methods for detailed assessment of the suitability of online platforms for the collection of research data. Considering not only general ethical issues, privacy, encryption, terms and conditions but also inclusivity for neurodivergent and vulnerable participants.

Tue 21
CDH Methods: Digital Archival Photography | an introduction new Finished 10:30 - 12:30 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

This Methods Workshop will introduce advanced techniques used for the digitisation and preservation of archival material. The first workshop will introduce the following topics:

  • Copyrights and sensitive data considerations
  • Understanding Photography basics
  • Digitisation Imaging Standards
  • Scene and capture calibration
  • Image post-processing
  • Taking usable images in any conditions
  • Principles and Digital Preservation good practice

Completing the workshop will give participants a good understanding of archival photography best practices. You will gain a strong professional vocabulary to discuss imaging and a toolkit to assess image quality.

A second session, bookable separately, will focus on how to adopt those principles to the projects chosen by the participants. This will cover learning a practical approach to taking images fit for purpose in any conditions with available resources. It may also address any more advanced imaging topics such as image stitching, Optical Character Recognition, Multispectral Imaging, or photogrammetry if these are in the interest of the participants. It will also be an opportunity to visit the Digital Content Unit at Cambridge University Library.

Wed 22
‘Out of the Shadows’: A Wikipedia edit-a-thon new (2 of 2) Finished 10:00 - 16:30 Cambridge University Library, CDH Lab

After the fantastic success of our last Wikipedia edit-a-thon in May, we are once again calling on the expertise of students and staff here at Cambridge to bring underrepresented histories ‘out of the shadows’ and into the light on Wikipedia.

No prior Wiki experience is required! We will host an online training session at 11am on 15 November to get you set up.

On 22 November we will host our edit-a-thon at the University Library. This will be a drop-in event where you can access support throughout the day to help improve and expand Wikipedia’s content. Hosted jointly by Doing History in Public, Cambridge University Libraries, and Cambridge Digital Humanities, with the assistance of Wikimedia UK's 'Connected Heritage Team', we hope to get as many new pages created and edits made as possible. Those who can join us for the day on 22 November will receive a free voucher to use in the UL Tea Room on the day!

If you cannot be in Cambridge on 22 November, we will do our best to enable you to interact remotely. You can also follow updates on Twitter via the hashtag #OOTSwiki.

Mon 27
CDH Methods | Writing Interactive Fiction new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Interactive Fiction (IF) stories let readers decide which paths the story should follow, featuring non-linear narrative design. The discipline combines the excitement of post-structuralist narratives with the power of creative coding, making it a perfect introduction for participants more familiar with one field than the other. In this workshop, led by Methods Fellow Claire Carroll, we’ll explore both parser-based (rooted in reader instructions and terminal response) and choice-based (hyperlink or multiple choice-driven) IF and work together to write our own interactive fiction. The workshop will also introduce participants to the passionate IF community, which offers advice and support to experienced writers and newcomers alike.

Tue 28

Following the introductory Methods Workshops, held on 21st November 2023, this session will focus on how to adopt the principles to the projects chosen by the participants. This will cover learning a practical approach to taking images fit for purpose in any conditions with available resources. It may also address any more advanced imaging topics such as image stitching, Optical Character Recognition, Multispectral Imaging, or photogrammetry if these are in the interest of the participants. It will also be an opportunity to visit the Digital Content Unit at Cambridge University Library.

Wed 29
CDH Basics: Sustaining your data new Finished 09:30 - 10:30 Cambridge Digital Humanities Online

Ensuring long-term access to digital data is often a difficult task: both hardware and code decay much more rapidly than many other means of information storage. Digital data created in the 1980s is frequently unreadable, whereas books and manuscripts written in the 980s are still legible. This session explores good practice in data preservation and software sustainability and looks at what you need to do to ensure that the data you don’t want to keep is destroyed.

  • Data and code sustainability
  • Retention, archiving and re-use
  • Data destruction
  • Recap on the project life-cycle

December 2023

Mon 4
CDH Methods | AI at work: a critical introduction to Machine Learning systems new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

This in-person workshop will provide an accessible, non-technical introduction to Machine Learning systems, aimed primarily at graduate students and researchers in the humanities, arts and social sciences. No prior knowledge of programming is required.

We will focus on the technical, ethical and societal implications of embedding Machine Learning systems for classifying and generating texts and images into the world of work, with a particular emphasis on the impact of Large Language Models such as ChatGPT. We will explore these text generation systems in the context of longer histories of AI, including the ‘deep learning revolution’ in image-based Machine Learning systems which laid the foundations for popular text-to-image generation models such as StableDiffusion.

Participants will have the chance to both learn more about how AI works and also discuss what the embedding of such systems into labour processes, management structures, resource allocation systems may mean for how society works.

Tue 5
Introduction to the Command Line new Finished 11:00 - 13:00 Faculty of English, GR04

This session introduces the command line, sometimes also known as the shell or the terminal, to humanities researchers. No prior knowledge of the command line or programming of any kind is required or expected from attendees.

A basic understanding of how to use the command line provides a step change in how productive you can be when working with data or text files, particularly large number of files or very large files, which can be hard to manipulate in a graphical interface. Some tools and programs can only be used from the command line, and this session aims to give you the confidence to work with them. In the session we primarily look at seven George Eliot novels and a comparative set of seven Dickens novels (about 3.4 million words in total) but this session should be of use to any humanities researchers working with text collections and the principles have far broader applicability.

We'll focus on running programs which come pre-installed on Mac and Linux, and which can be easily added to Windows. We'll combine these programs in productive ways, discuss how to discover and use the options for each, how to send results to files, and how to work efficiently on the command line so you don't have to retype or remember everything you've done.

January 2024

Tue 9
Digital Archival Photography | in-depth new Finished 10:30 - 12:30 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Following the introductory Methods Workshops, held on 21st November 2023, this session will focus on how to adopt the principles to the projects chosen by the participants. This will cover learning a practical approach to taking images fit for purpose in any conditions with available resources. It may also address any more advanced imaging topics such as image stitching, Optical Character Recognition, Multispectral Imaging, or photogrammetry if these are in the interest of the participants. It will also be an opportunity to visit the Digital Content Unit at Cambridge University Library.

Mon 22
More Steps in Coding: Reliable, Reusable, Understandable Code new Finished 09:00 - 13:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Code in research helps to automate the collection, analysis or visualisation of data. Although the code may fulfil your research objective, you might have wondered how to improve it, code more efficiently, or make it ready for collaboration and sharing. Perhaps you have experienced challenges with debugging or understanding it.

In this intermediate workshop, we will introduce several coding design principles and practices that ensure code is reliable, reusable and understandable, enabling participants to take their code to the next level.

The workshop will begin by introducing the key concepts using ample examples. Participants will then work in groups to apply the concepts either to code provided by the convenor or to their existing projects, with guidance from the convenor. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss their project goals with the convenor to demonstrate how the best practices can be implemented during the coding process.

This workshop is for individuals who have some prior experience with Python and who, ideally, have a coding project that they wish to work on. Participants are encouraged to arrive with a specific objective or desired output for their coding project. For example, you might wish to pre-process your data, add a specific analysis to your project, or make your code publicly available.

Wed 24
Re-collected Thoughts: "Commonplacing" Practices from Analogue to Digital new (1 of 2) Finished 14:00 - 16:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Across two sessions, participants will be introduced to the ancient yet evolving practices of commonplace-book keeping and the ‘modernised’ digital tools and methods for extracting, indexing, sustaining and networking knowledge fragments from personal notes, anthologies and archives for idea generation. Commonplacing—manifest as the classical vade mecums (‘come with me’ book of phrases for rhetors), the early-modern scholar’s indexed bodies of learnings, the eighteenth-century domestic commonplace books of culinary and medicinal recipes and nineteenth-century collaborative records of readings—is as much a method for knowledge compilation as a way to structure collective (and ‘re-collected’) thoughts. The commonplace book’s modern afterlife may be traced in the Zettelkasten method and micro-blogging sites like Tumblr, which facilitate the systematic storage and dispersal of quotations and other media.

The interactive sessions will draw upon the theoretical underpinning of commonplacing as a productive ideation approach as well as new digital tools of translating atomised ‘commonplaces’ (and metadata) into network graphs and databases for visualising potentially hidden connections for research and pedagogy.

Wed 31
Re-collected Thoughts: "Commonplacing" Practices from Analogue to Digital new (2 of 2) Finished 14:00 - 16:00 17 Mill Lane, Seminar Room E

Across two sessions, participants will be introduced to the ancient yet evolving practices of commonplace-book keeping and the ‘modernised’ digital tools and methods for extracting, indexing, sustaining and networking knowledge fragments from personal notes, anthologies and archives for idea generation. Commonplacing—manifest as the classical vade mecums (‘come with me’ book of phrases for rhetors), the early-modern scholar’s indexed bodies of learnings, the eighteenth-century domestic commonplace books of culinary and medicinal recipes and nineteenth-century collaborative records of readings—is as much a method for knowledge compilation as a way to structure collective (and ‘re-collected’) thoughts. The commonplace book’s modern afterlife may be traced in the Zettelkasten method and micro-blogging sites like Tumblr, which facilitate the systematic storage and dispersal of quotations and other media.

The interactive sessions will draw upon the theoretical underpinning of commonplacing as a productive ideation approach as well as new digital tools of translating atomised ‘commonplaces’ (and metadata) into network graphs and databases for visualising potentially hidden connections for research and pedagogy.

February 2024

Mon 12
Empowering Field Research: Open Data Kit (ODK) Workshop for Digital Field Surveys new Finished 13:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Please note this workshop has limited spaces and we request a pre course questionnaire is completed.

This Methods Workshop welcomes participants who are interested in acquiring skills related to Open Data Kit (ODK), a tool that facilitates the implementation of low-cost digital recording for field surveys. ODK is an open-source data collection platform, that can be used on mobile devices, offering a wide range of features for the development of customised digital survey forms. It allows users to collect geotagged photos, sketches, location coordinates, load pre-existing data, implement skipping logics, write questionnaires in multiple languages and more.

These forms are made using XLSForm standards which offers an easy to understand and simple way of authoring forms using Excel. ODK users can also collect data offline and send it to server when a good internet connection is available, allowing data to still be collected in areas of low internet connectivity. The collected data is submitted to the server from where it can be downloaded for analysis or further processing. In this workshop, you will be able to learn end-to-end ODK form development, deployment, setting up on a mobile device and analysing collected data. With these skills, you will then be able to design your own personalised field data collection system as per your research/project requirements.

Note: ODK Collect (mobile application) is currently only available for android devices. However, the forms can also be accessed using Enketo web forms in a browser on a laptop or on a mobile device e.g., iOS. Enketo web forms and ODK Collect are expected to have different appearance for survey forms as these are developed and maintained by different teams.

Mon 19
First Steps in Coding with R new Finished 14:00 - 16:00 Faculty of English, Board Room

Convenor: Dr Estara Arrant (Cambridge University Library)

This session is aimed at researchers with minimal coding experience or who have not done any coding but have data they want to explore and visualise. However, you do not need to have a full set of data to benefit from this class. You will learn the fundamentals of conducting a basic analysis of Humanities-related data in the R language, including prepping and tidying data and generating useful graphs which communicate information about your research to others.  You will also gain a basic overview of the R programming language, which will provide you with principles that you can take forward to learn more advanced data analysis methods. The software we will use (RStudio) is free to download and is compatible with most computers. We will provide installation support and guidance. You will need your own laptop.

Mon 26
First Steps in Version Control with GitHub new [Standby] 14:00 - 17:00 Cambridge University Library, Milstein Room

Please note this workshop has limited spaces, and an pre-course questionnaire is in place. Please complete before the session.

Version control helps you to write code for your research more sustainably and collaboratively, in line with best practices for open research. You might use code for collecting, analysing or visualising your data or something else. Everyone who codes in some way can benefit from learning about version control for their daily workflow.

This workshop will cover the importance of version control when developing code and foster a culture of best practices in FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reproducible) code development. We will take you through the basic use of GitHub to help you store, manage, and track changes to your code and develop code collaboratively with others.

Designed with beginners in mind, this workshop caters to those who have not yet delved into Git or GitHub. While prior knowledge of a programming language (e.g., R or Python) would be beneficial, it is not a prerequisite.