DH Press Workshop at the University of South Carolina

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Just over a week ago, DIL/DH Press team member Stephanie Barnwell and I traveled to Columbia, S.C. to conduct a one-day workshop on DH Press for the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of South Carolina.

We spent a lovely day with about twenty-two faculty, library staff, and graduate students. Many have been involved in digital humanities work for some time now; others were just getting started.

Stephanie Barnwell explains WordPress.

Stephanie Barnwell explains WordPress.

Despite a few technical hiccups (aren’t there always a few?), we managed to cover a lot of ground. After a brief introduction to DH Press, we provided a quick primer in WordPress basics, and then spent the rest of the morning discussing the nature of humanities data — how to build humanities data sets, what some of the challenges might be in working with incomplete and “fuzzy” data, and how to anticipate your data needs.

After lunch, we jumped into DH Press. First, our participants each created a project in DH Press using a subset of data from the “Charlotte 1911” project. I always like to start trainings with data that I know are clean and formatted to work in DH Press. This way, it’s easier to solve the problems that may arise along the way. Fortunately, just about everyone was able to create and publish a project.

We ended the day with a highly experimental session, one that I’d never tried before and wasn’t sure would even work. We asked participants to bring their own data sets (and we provided some random data sets for those who didn’t have one). These were “messy” data sets — not necessarily well suited for DH Press, many lacking any sort of geographical information required for the map visualization. The goal was to get these data sets into DH Press by the end of the day.

We asked participants to think about what they wanted to do with their data — what did they want to visualize and present to others, what sort of information would they need to extract, and what stories were they trying to tell? Participants then had to determine what sort of information was missing from their data, and how they would go about filling in those gaps. While we ran out of time to finish this session, several individuals were able to format their data successfully and publish a project.

We were so grateful for the opportunity to share DH Press with USC. We hope that some folks down there will adopt DH Press for their own projects, in which case I’ll share the results of any of those projects.

And a special thank you to Stephanie, who did an amazing job teaching everyone how to use WordPress and DH Press. She proved to be an excellent instructor and a wonderful traveling buddy.