The End of the Year & DHSITE 2017

Is it honestly the end of May already?!? I feel as though I just finished posting in January as I was looking forward to finishing the end of the term. I suppose it makes sense as to why I have not been able to post for so long as I have been occupied writing for class. While admittedly, this was a challenging task this year, it was perhaps one of the most rewarding to date.

First of all in Issues In Digital Humanities I had the chance to learn more about things like visualization and digital cartography using tools such as Google Earth. What was really fun though was doing a sort of rough draft as a final project for the class. In the end this was so great because it allowed me to see what what it was that I was truly passionate about. In addition it allowed me to demonstrate the strategy that I plan to demonstrate my my thesis in. My thesis proposal shall be that much stronger because of it.

As for my other course Historical Theory & Method, admittedly, I was expecting to not enjoy it as I have generally struggled in the past with theory (it was why I switched to History from Political Science for example). However, this year’s course was centred around Michel Foucault and his theories related to discipline, punishment, security, territory and population. Amazingly and unexpectedly though I was able to base my final project for that class on some ideas which I believe will prove to be helpful for my thesis as well. Essentially my project was all about deciphering the difference, if there is one, between an impairment and a disability. Therefore, the discussion of accessibility naturally fit into this.

More recently, I had the opportunity to go to DHSITE (Digital Humanities Summer Institute and Technologies East) 2017 last week and had an amazing time! I had first heard about it from Dr Greenspan in class. He told us how Carleton and Ottawa U were combining forces to make a similar conference to that which I have attended so many times at the University of Victoria (DHSI). Being the DH nerd that I am I immediately signed up for two workshops, Social Network Analysis, which sounded interesting even though I did not really know entirely what it was, and Twitter Bots, because come on… it’s Twitter Bots!

So first off was Social Network Analysis at the University of Ottawa last Wednesday and Thursday. In it I learned so much! In it we took a website called Netlytic is a tool which allows you to search and analyze undiscovered social networks on different different social media sites. So for instance you can do what I did and search for how many people utilize the term #accessibility over three days and for the next three days Netlytic will check Twitter every 15 minutes a check for a tweet that contains #accessibility. On top of this it will search through Twitter’s history before you made the request. From this search Netlytic will create a graphic that visualizes a network of connections that reveals all kinds of things, like new people that you did not know are discussing the subject, new ways that the subject is being discussed, and what I found most useful, new hashtags that are being tweeted along with it. Here is an example:



From this image we can see nodes and connections. the thicker nodes signify individuals who have mentioned this topic most frequently and the lines are their connections to others. When reading these tweets what I found most amazing was the ability to discover a new hashtag that is going to help my thesis! It is #academicableism and I was surprised how many people had discussed this hashtag when first researching #accessibility.

Now Twitter Bots was another story. For the most part I knew what they were but did not know how much use they can serve. Admittedly though, I am still discovering the ins and outs of how to best work them so I thought it would be best to make one that just quotes Seinfeld every so often. At first this was a bit difficult as I was trying to figure out how to make the proper algorithm for doing this. So I took the random character name, random word random line approach and failed miserably. BUT then I figured out that I could just quote random lines in a list on The secret to this is how at the beginning of each quote, you have to not only write “Hello… Newman.” But “#Hello… Newman.” Once I did so my bot worked! So you can now follow him by following this link Follow if you dare…

Mastering My Craft In 2017

Seeing as I have not posted in quite some time, I thought the last day of the year was a fitting time for some reflection…

2016 has been an interesting year for me academically. As it began I was entering my second semester of graduate classes as a Special Student at Carleton, not yet in the MA program in History. Thankfully, I was able to end that semester very successfully despite a major illness in March.

My summer was then spent travelling to rest up for a very busy academic year. In May, I had the chance to travel back to my home province of Alberta and visit my relatives for the first time in over seventeen years in their homes. It was invigorating to see them and take in the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Later on in the summer I then travelled to New York City, my favourite place in the world, with my father who I had not seen all year. Both of these trips were absolutely crucial to allow me to recharge my batteries so that I would be both physically and mentally prepared for the most challenging academic year of my career.

Not only was I facing a great deal of challenging academic work of my own, but in addition I would have the responsibility of being a TA for the first time. I knew that in order to successfully maintain the grades that I had in mind, I would have to manage my energy very carefully. Thankfully the History Department was very accommodating to this reality and helped me arrange my schedule to do so.

For years I have been waiting with great eagerness to try my hand at being a TA. The experience did not disappoint. While I didn’t get as much of a chance to interact with students as I had hoped, I did get a chance to build some great friendships with fellow graduate students as well as professors.

As I look on to 2017 I feel a great deal of excitement. This next semester is going to be a busy one with two major class projects due, as well as more TA responsibilities. However, I know that if I keep track of my energy, I can keep my stress level down and reduce any risks to my health. If I do this I will be able to complete these two major assignments to the best of my abilities. Once this is accomplished I can begin the most exciting part of my 2017, my Masters thesis.

Summer and Fall

This is amazing to me. Here I am at my on computer on a Thursday afternoon in August about to begin my Masters. My goal for my summer was to have a pleasant mix of adventure and relaxation to prepare me for the task that lay ahead in the fall. My plan worked.

Summer for me began with, as my last entry pointed to, with an absolutely amazing trip to Calgary. I then went to Philadelphia with my powerhockey team for our annual tournament, which was filled with fantastic competition and even a little historic site seeing. Finally I am about to embark upon a final weekend holiday to my favourite place in the world, New York City. In between all of these unbelievable trips I have enjoyed my relaxation time by listening to audiobooks by the river, and driving along the canal. What a summer it has been!

I am writing this blog entry today though because I have just registered for (what I have now learned thanks to my credits from last year) what are my two remaining classes before beginning my MRE or Thesis to complete my degree. What is amazing about this is that I was expecting to be working on this degree for what was to be the foreseeable future. Now though I am beginning with the extra motivation of being able to see the finish line.

This news was given to me yesterday from Dr Lipsett-Rivera. As she told me I was honestly so shocked I did not stop smiling for what seemed like a couple hours. Having the ability to finish up my classes and have the opportunity to experience being a TA all in two years blew my mind!

The History and Digital Humanities faculties at Carleton have been so accommodating and supportive of me that I cannot thank them enough. They have helped me navigate the program to best suit my needs, as well as answer any questions or concerns that I have. Learning how to arrange things so that I can experience being a TA despite the limits placed on to me by my disability.

I cannot wait to dive in to the deep end of the adventure that is before me. It may be much shorter than I was expecting it to be, but that simply means that I will savour every moment.

Personal History

One month ago I was given the opportunity I have not had in seventeen year, visit my home province of Alberta. During these years though my family has travelled back and forth to visit. While I did have some feelings of envy during these times, it was simply unrealistic until now for me to fly there for multiple reasons.

However, thanks to my new found independence I took it upon myself to organize a trip to get out there once again. What I discovered during this trip is that my feelings of nostalgia for the region were way stronger than I ever expected. The moment my plane landed in Calgary I found myself filled with tingles of excitement. Over the course of the trip there were two things in particular that stuck out to me. First, my fond memories of being around aunts, uncles and cousins. And second how amazing it is to be able to be surrounded by such natural beasts that we fondly refer to as the Rocky Mountains.

As I write this I can remember how being back in the house of my aunt and uncle brought back so many fond memories of my childhood. For instance having the children of my cousin running around the house chaotically reminded me of when it was me doing the yelling and screaming. This time though I was seated at the adult table which at first I must admit felt as though it had to be a mistake!

Later on during this trip I took a day trip to the heart of the Rockies in Banff. As I approached them my skin began to tingle with excitement. After living in Ontario for so long and around its geography you really forget how remarkable they are. Memories of driving towards them every weekend for skiing with my family brought back so much positive energy.

This is exactly what inspired me to write this entry. I felt so lucky to be back in those surroundings that it reminded me of why I love history in the first place. I love history because I always enjoy looking back on my own personal history and learning how I got to where I am today. I may not have realized that I want to study history when I first entered university but this trip confirmed to me that I am on the correct path and I am looking forward to this next stage of my life.

Learning To Thrive In Twine

As some of you may have read in an earlier post ‘Learning To Share Your Work’, after completing my honours thesis last year on the evolution of accessibility of the book I had great difficulty with figuring out how best to publish it. In the end I created a PDF file as well as publishing a copy in Notational Velocity. However, I had always wanted to complete a Twine game representation of it somehow. I will happily admit that I had no idea of what that would look like at the time but I feel as though I have created something that represents the experience I went through that inspired my honours thesis in the first place.

It was thanks again to Dr Graham that I was given the opportunity to make this game for his Digital History class as my final assignment. The game is titled ‘Learning To Thrive’ and in it you are a disabled university student who is trying to find the right path that will allow you to successfully get through your degree. Going into it I had these wild and crazy thoughts going through my head that I would somehow allow the player to choose what type of disability they possessed and from there they could have different paths based on what disability they chose.

Of course just as I always do I overestimated how much time I would have in the semester to allocate towards putting this together. Therefore, I decided to shorten it and base the game on a student with a neuromuscular disorder using my experiences to help. While this game does not relate to the information in my thesis an individual who has experience with both can connect the two between discussions relating to the material book in both.

When first beginning this project it was the first time I had ever used Twine to a serious degree. I had learned about it from Dr Graham in years past but had never really used it to accomplish anything major such as this. With that in mind I knew that I would have to keep it simple, especially considering I did not know really (although I did do some research in the last couple days) how to change the background or make any special effects. The only real thing that I knew how to do was connect from one passage to another using double square brackets, [[like this]]. In the end though I decided to keep it simple as it was what I thought to be a good representation of what university should be like to the student, a simple experience.

For the most part I did not have too much trouble but when I was cleaning it up I changed the titles of a few of the passages which created new empty unneeded passages by accident. You can find out all about my other experiences while making it in my notes below. Overall I believe this experience was a great way to wrap up a semester full of lessons on digital programming that can and will make my academic life easier in the coming future. I am as always learning to thrive.

Learning To Thrive Twine Game


- Final project is a Twine game based on my post-secondary career as a disabled student

- it will have different options of accommodations to suit your needs as a disabled student but only one leads to a healthy and successful completion of a degree

- Different reasons behind each decision and they will be explained in the game itself



- Explains what the game is and how it works.

- Contains two links:

- Neuromuscular Disorder

- Begin

Neuromuscular Disorder

- The purpose of this box is to explain to the player what a neuromuscular disorder is and how it will impact their post-secondary career

- It does not have any options within it other than to return to the introduction box


- Contains two links

- Male

- Female

Male & Female

- The purpose of both these boxes is to establish in the mind of the player that gender is not important when it comes to your overall health as a disabled student

- Both of these boxes only contain one link

- Disability


- Point of this box is to reestablish in the mind of the player how important it is to make all of their decisions with their health as their number one concern

- Accomplishes this by using language like ‘naively’ to point out that you are making some decisions without any information

- Contains one link

- Health


- Purpose of this link is to explain to the player how having a neuromuscular disorder impacts their health and therefore every decision they make in the game will affect how their body is feeling physically compared to the average person

- Contains one link

- Post-Secondary Career

Post-Secondary Career

- Purpose of this box is twofold:

1: Explain how when graduating from high school you are fully confident in your ability as a student academically but you are concerned about not having an Educational Assistant with you in class all the time

2: How because of this you are forced to make more decisions about your education strategy such as how will you take notes

- Contains two links

- EA (Educational Assistant)

- Notes


- Purpose of this box is just to explain to any players what an EA is if they don’t know already

- Contains only one link

- Post-Secondary Career


- Only purpose of this link is to establish in the mind of the player that despite the fact that you are a disabled student you want to experience everything when it comes to the world of post-secondary studies

- So you don’t want to use your disability as a way of getting through your post-secondary career

- Contains one link

- The Easy Way Out

The Easy Way Out

- Purpose of this link is to show how you don’t think you are any different from other student despite the fact that you have a neuromuscular disorder

- Demonstrates how you realize that this is not the case thanks to your experiences in the library and being unable to reach the available knowledge that it provides.

- You grasp that accommodations is not necessarily a bad thing because the obstacles in the library were solved by Transcription Services

- Therefore in your mind your disability is not any reason to receive any special form of in class accommodation

- Contains one link

- Transcription Services

Transcription Services

- Explains what transcription services is and how the Transcription Services office in the library takes any physical book off of the shelf and transforms it into a format that suits your needs best

- Leaves you with  one option

- to return to The Easy Way Out


- This box is where the game truly has its beginnings as you are presented with a number of different possible paths to take in terms of in class accommodations

- These in class accommodations relate to what format of textbook you would like to read and how you would like to take your notes in class

- Each one will lead you to different obstacles and have different affects on your health

- Your options are as follows

- Paper format textbook and take your own notes

- Audiobook textbook and take your own notes

- PDF textbook and take your own notes

- Paper format textbook and a volunteer note taker

- audiobook textbook and volunteer notetaker

- PDF and volunteer note taker

- You Don’t Need Help

Paper Format Textbook and Take Your Own Notes

- This window begins by explaining a situation that you find yourself in during class when choosing this form of accommodation

- The situation is explained as not being able to keep up in class because you can’t access your paper form textbook while your laptop is on your tray

- It leads you with only one option

- Continue Paper Format Textbook and Take Your Own Notes

Continue Paper Format Textbook and Take Your Own Notes

- It explains how you try to compensate for the issue you had in class by doing extra reading at home

- It then states that you get physically tired from this activity very quickly and presents you with two options

- These options are as follows

- Keep Reading

- Put the Textbook Away

Keep Reading

- Discusses how you are beginning to feel the impact on your health and your studies

- leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- open another textbook

Put the Textbook Away

- In this link you are forced to think about your options

- States that you are stressed from the rising amount of reading on your plate from other classes but realize that you are tired

- So you are presented with two options

- Go To Bed

- Open Another Textbook

Go To Bed

- This link explains how going to bed is the right choice to make for your health and your studies as continuing your readings in this fashion will catch up with you

- There is only one link to choose in this link and it is

- Accommodations

Open Another Textbook

- This link is basically about how by making this decision you think that your academics will benefit most

- In the end though you know that you are just denying the inevitable and you feel yourself getting sick which is your worst fear

- This screen contains one choice and it is

- Getting Sick

Getting Sick from continuing with paper format textbooks and taking your own notes

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- Continue On With Paper Format Textbooks and Taking Your Own Notes

Continue On With Paper Format Textbooks and Taking Your Own Notes

- Purpose of this window is to demonstrate that making this choice is absolutely the worst possible thing you can do

- Continuing on this path after a couple months and you will find yourself unable to continue on with your studies

Audiobook & Take Your Own Notes

- Point of this window is to demonstrate how while audiobooks do help you keep up with readings, they are not so helpful when it comes to referring back to a specific point once you have passed it.

- Also points out that after a while you realize that you quickly get too tired from taking your own notes to keep up with a three hour lecture

- Leaves you with two choices

- Continue with Audiobook & Take Your Own Notes

- Accommodations

Continue with Audiobook & Take Your Own Notes

- Purpose is to demonstrate how great this choice is for keeping up with readings but how ultimately it is bad for your academic standing and health

- Also makes it difficult for you to cite your sources when writing your papers as you cannot refer to specific pages

- Leaves you with one choice

- Getting sick from continuing with audiobooks & taking your own notes

Getting sick from continuing with audiobooks & taking your own notes

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two possible choices

- Trying Audiobooks & Taking Your Own Notes One Final Time

- Accommodations

Trying Audiobooks & Taking Your Own Notes One Final Time

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out audiobooks and taking your own notes is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

PDFs and Taking Your Own Notes

- Explains why you realize that this is quite possibly the best format for your needs when you first start using PDFs for textbooks and research books

- Explains how you find the note taking to be tiresome but this may be the only down side

- Warns you to be wary of your decisions in the coming future

- Leaves you with two options

- Ebook

- How You React


- Simply explains what an ebook is

- Leaves you with one option

- PDF and take your own notes

How You React

- Points out how that taking your own notes is becoming too strenuous to continue as you are finding that you don’t have the energy remaining to complete additional work, including readings

- Presents two options

- continue with pdfs and taking your own notes

- accommodations

Continue with pdfs and taking your own notes

- purpose of this window is to demonstrate to the player how pdfs are affecting your outlook on school as a whole including class and homework

- Leaves you with two options to choose from

- get some sleep

- try to finish your work

Get some Sleep

- Although it feels like the wrong choice at first, in the end  you know it is the right one because you know that you will have more energy for work after a good night sleep

- However this is really only a part time solution as after a couple weeks you find yourself in the same situation

- Leaves you with two options

- give PDFs and taking your own notes one last try

- Accommodations

Give PDFs and taking your own notes another try

- Explains why this decision is not good you

- Leaves you with one choice

- getting sick from the path you have chosen

Getting Sick from the path you have chosen

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two options

- Give PDFs and taking your own notes one last try

- Accommodations

Give PDFs and taking your own notes one last try

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out audiobooks and taking your own notes is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

Try to finish your work

- Point of this window is to show how great it feels to be on the same footing in the classroom and the library but you are at a crossroad because of your energy level.

- Leaves you with two options

- give PDFs and taking your own notes another try

- Accommodations

Paper Format Textbook & Volunteer Notetaker

- explains your reasoning behind making this choice

- potential problems that this decision may have such as maintaining energy

- leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- Continue with paper format textbook & volunteer notetaker

Continue with paper format textbook & volunteer notetaker

- Explains how you chose this path because you enjoy having actual books in front of you

- Discusses issues such as energy and accessibility more in-depth

- leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- asking for help getting books and asking for people to help you read

asking for help getting books and asking for people to help you read

- Window demonstrates why this idea and solutions appears to be the right one but in the end is not

- Leaves you with two options

- Fool Yourself

- Accommodations

Fool Yourself

- explains how you are fooling yourself by thinking that you are confident and open enough to ask strangers for help on a regular basis

- Also explains how this can be detrimental to your health and work load

- Leaves you with two options

- Getting sick from fooling yourself

- Accommodations

Getting sick from fooling yourself

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two options

- Give paper format textbooks and volunteer note takers one last try

- Accommodations

Give paper format textbooks and volunteer note takers

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out Give paper format textbooks and volunteer note takers is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

You Don’t Need Help

- Explains the positives and negatives about not accepting help (mainly arguing that there is more negative)

- What the repercussions could be if they were ignored

- Leaves you with two options

- continue to deny needing help

- Accommodations

Continue to deny needing help

- Explains how and why this is a detrimental mistake to your health as well as your academic studies

- Ultimately explains that if you do follow this path you will cause yourself too much harm to continue on in your academic endeavours

Audiobook & volunteer note taker

- Explains the benefits and negatives of having an audiobook and volunteer note taker

- Leaves you with two options

- continue with audiobooks & volunteer note takers

- accommodations

Continue with audiobooks & volunteer notetakers

- this section explains how as you continue down this path you begin to understand more and more that the audiobook is more useful for how it allows you to keep up with your readings in a relaxed way

- Explains the positives and negatives of continuing on with volunteer note takers

- Leaves you with two options

- try to learn how to cite your sources more efficiently with audiobooks

- accommodations

try to learn how to cite your sources more efficiently with audiobooks

- Express the difficulties between reading books through audio format and writing proper citations

- How as much as you try there really is no good connection

- Leaves you with two options

- Insist on continuing on with audiobooks and volunteer note takers

- Accommodations

Insist on continuing on with audiobooks and volunteer note takers

- points to why you would want to continue in this direction

- Explains why you think that this is not the right choice and why it does work

- Leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- take the risk and trying audiobooks and volunteer note takers one last time

Take the risk and trying audiobooks and volunteer note takers one last time

- Explain why this is such a risk

- leaves you with only one option

- getting sick from audiobooks and volunteer note takers

getting sick from audiobooks and volunteer note takers

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two possible choices

- Give Audiobooks & Volunteer Note Takers

- Accommodations

Give audiobooks & volunteer note takers one last try

- Give audiobooks and volunteer note takers one last try

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out audiobooks and having volunteer note takers is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- It does point out though that you begin to think that perhaps it was just the audiobooks that didn’t work as you found that being able to fully listen when attending your classes was dramatically improving your studies as well as your health

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

PDF & Volunteer Note Takers

- Explains how and why you feel that this is the perfect combination of all possible accommodations being offered to you

- Also explains that you are actually even able to consider some extra curricular activities thanks to the energy that these two options a leaving you with

- Leaves you with one necessary and one unnecessary options

- PDF/ebook (unnecessary)

- extracurricular activities


- Simply explains what an ebook is

- Leaves you with one option

- PDF and take your own notes

Extra-curricular activities

- demonstrates how this choice would lead to being in this situation

- Leaves you with two choices

- take advantage and do some in addition to schoolwork

- continue on education without participating in extracurriculars

continue on education without participating in extracurriculars

- Explains how there are both advantages and disadvantages to this

- More negatives though as your overall university experience becomes limited

- Leaves you with one option

- impact on your future

Impact on your future

- purpose of this is to argue that by focussing solely on your school work

- also that it will be limiting to your potential educational future

Take advantage and do some in addition to schoolwork

- this passage is meant to demonstrate how great it is that PDFs and volunteer note takers have been allowing you the extra time and energy to take on more in your life

- also though is quick to point out how you need to be careful when managing extracurriculars and your education as you can quickly lose control of your health, which will inevitably lead to your grades suffering as a result

- leaves you with two options

- finish your degree with minimal activities

- take on more

take on more

- explains why this is a very fine line to walk or ‘roll’ on

- ultimately though it will lead to a more negative outcome as despite you being able to accomplish more schoolwork thanks to PDFs and volunteer note takers, you become too focussed on the outside world and your grades suffer as a result

- leaves you with two options

- try to fix the problem by taking on less

- continuing to take on more

continuing to take on more

- argues that by following this path you will be at risk of getting sick because of lack of energy from taking on too much

- leaves you with one option

- getting sick from taking on too much

getting sick from taking on too much

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- leaves you with two options

- insist on trying to take on as much as possible one last time

- reducing the amount of extracurriculars

insist on trying to take on as much as possible one last time

- describes how over doing it with extracurricular activities spends more energy than the PDFs and volunteer note takers have allowed for

- also states that you will be unable to continue on to complete your education if as you will quickly spiral to a place that you can’t recover from both academically and medically

Reducing the amount of extracurriculars

- points out that by reducing the amount of extracurriculars you find yourself back in a place that that you feel confident in.

- your energy is back to a manageable level and you are still able to keep up with your readings and attend all lectures thanks to the PDFs and volunteer note takers

Finish your degree with minimal activities

- this passage is aimed to demonstrate how you as a disabled student with a neuromuscular disability have finally found a set of accommodations that suits you

- Not only that but you have figured out a way in which you can thrive, maintaining good health, keeping your grades high and participating in extra curricular activities

- congratulations you have successfully found the path to graduation and a potential to further education


- decided to change the name of the game to Learning To Thrive

- made small changes to the introduction to drive home the point of this title

- decided to eliminate a couple passages related to choosing your gender and then telling the player that those passages didn’t matter

- made it a bit more dramatic as I do remember it being very dramatic personally, but i was hesitant to make it that way originally

- decided to change it though because it will also drive home my point better

- Made a few other changes to the body particularly passages that are similar to one another to make them as different as I can

- decided to keep it simple in appearance after reviewing other games as it’s simplicity sort of mirrors the appearance I would like to convey to the player of how university should be simple to thrive in

Learning How To Use Wget and Python Cautiously

Wget is a program that is designed to “retrieve” files from websites and download them onto your computer. This, as I have learned in class from Dr Graham and from the tutorial, is a very powerful tool. One that allows you to do something as simple as download a single paper, or several links. Wget can even mirror an entire website using the proper commands. If you are not careful, as we discussed in class, an individual can even get blacklisted from a website! This is something that I did not know was possible.

What I found to be most difficult though was using Wget alongside Python. In the second part of the tutorial for instance it taught the user multiple tools. First, to download multiple files at once by entering the URLs sequentially into a script in a text editor, I chose TextWrangler. They used an 80 page diary example from the Library and Archives of Canada that looked like this:

urls = '';
for x in range('integer1', 'integer2'):
    urls = '\n' % (x)


As you can see the Python portion of the tutorial was much more complex as it involved more detailed work.

The other things that this tutorial taught us about was how Python could help Wget to retrieve files from websites by getting around barriers in websites such as those that will not allow you to download more than one thing at once. These commands are very useful but again, complex. This is even more complex for someone like me who has limited to no background in coding.

Much of this tutorial was very interesting to someone like me who again, is new to the more complex digital world such as coding. As you will see in my notes below I had to follow the instructions to the T in order to completely understand.

Here they are:

– I checked to see if I had wget installed and I did not so I installed it
– had trouble originally downloading Xcode but managed to
– downloading the package manager was complicated at times due to the number of steps but managed to complete it
– made a new directory in order to download a specific set of files by typing in mkdir wget-activehistory into the terminal as was instructed in the tutorial
– this has allowed me to download certain things from
– wget operates by typing in wget into the command line terminal followed by the option you would like it to complete followed by the URL address like so: wget [option] [url]
– first effort of this turned out favourably as the program retrieved other files off of the URL when I typed in -r as the option
– this turned out to be really complicated as it brought back multiple links off of those links
– In order to stop this the tutorial gave another command to tell wget not to follow the links beyond the last parent directory so in other words to not follow the links beyond your current url
– you can also tell it to follow links up to 5 times its parent if you prefer
– another command was a bit of an odd concept but it successfully did what it was supposed to as it didn’t show any error messages when i entered the -w 10 command which makes the server wait ten seconds before making another request
– i did also try a different amount of time as the tutorial suggested was possible
– wget can also help to mirror a website by being sure to enter a trailing slash on the command line after the url
– first time i did this it didn’t work as i stupidly made a mistake of forgetting this exact thing
– tried using the -m command successfully though to navigate through the mirrored website i had created using wget
– using wget alongside python though was a bit more complicated as it required me to enter more complex commands while using another program, in this case textwrangler
– for example when trying to retrieve a 80 page war diary i had to be VERY careful about entering the proper urls
– for example I missed one ‘ before the url and it did not work
– the tutorial then goes into how sometimes automated downloading requires working around coding barriers
– for example it says that for URLs that may be too complex for someone with a limited background in coding to design a python script for (such as myself) Wget has a built in function called Accept (-A)
– this lets you decide what files you want from a URL
– it uses the thomas jefferson papers as an example by getting you to enter a series of URLs in your textwrangler then write an even more complicated command into the command line
– this a really cool concept of being able to go around barriers and how the tutorial spoke of accessibility more generally made me think of how I think of accessibility
– tutorial then goes into instructing you on what to do if the directory you are in is closed and only allows you to do one image or file at a time
– while this was complex as I had to be careful when entering the URLs into the textwrangler file but i was careful not to make my earlier mistake or another one like it and was able to retrieve the different .jpeg files

Markdown & Pandoc

Every time I try to start a new paper for class it seems as though I am struggling to A: find a subject to write about. B: find sources for that subject. And C: find a program that will be acceptable to share between computers. This is where Markdown and Pandoc come in to play and hopefully I will learn how to use them better in the future.

Markdown and Pandoc are basically programs that provide sustainability to a file. For example, if a file is written in Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages it will only be able to be read for a certain amount of time because those programs do not cooperate well with others. Or even their own newer versions of themselves for that matter. Markdown is a program that lets you focus on writing in and format later, while the former do not. What Pandoc does is it will allow you to change the formatting of the Markdown file through the command line.

Once you learn how to use these programs they are easy to navigate but as you will see in my notes below, I struggled at times through the Programming Historian tutorial.


- Why use markdown? First, plain text format and sustainable

- Understandable by multiple phones and tablets

- Markdown is more about keeping you focused on writing and then worry about formatting

- Reference links are not footnotes they are just small numbers after the word that you are wanting to link

- Links to file always begin with !


- Geared toward publishing

- More valuable to write in plain text then worry about formatting

- Specifically made for academics

- Advantage of open note taking is to cite the research of others

- There are now peer review journals that accept research for publishing

- Other advantage is research version control you can always revert back to what you had a week ago if you think it is better

- Journal of Open Humanities Data

- Lessons learned in this class are being put in place in all different professions

- With digital tools there is now a chain of links to aid us in finding the original document

- This can sometimes cause issues with revealing private information about certain individuals that was not intended to be shared

- Digital tools can also help us do things like recreate old documents that have been taken apart and separated around the earth and recreate it digitally

Tutorial notes

- Principles of Markdown:

1: Sustainability – it is able to withstand changes in technology so that your research can be read years into the future

2: Preference for human-readable formats: Markdown is simple program that is exactly as it appears whereas .doc files have hidden formatting characters which can change the appearance of your file when simply copying and pasting something onto it

3: Separation of form and content: Writing and formatting at the same time is distracting so Markdown allows you to simply write and worry about formatting at a later time

4: Support for the academic apparatus: handles footnotes, figures, international characters, and bibliographies perfectly well

5: Platform independence: Markdown allows you to save any file in one format say a PDF and then convert it into HTML later on

- having difficulty finding Pandoc after successfully installing it

- figured it out – have to go into the command line then type in cd Documents and then hit enter then type pandoc and I am inside

- do not know yet how to get out of pandoc without closing the command line program completely but i will figure that out later

- Flavour of Markdown used by Pandoc is geared towards academic use

- Empty space is meaningful in Markdown

- It is important to remember not to indent your new paragraphs in plain text files like TextWrangler

- asterisks make letters bold or italic to add more emphasis (one for italic, two for bold, *like this* or **like this**

- to make a footnote you add [^1] after a sentence and it will then link to a website or source


- saved file in one file so it is easy to find

- goal of Markdown is to make things simpler so they (authors of this tutorial) recommend saving everything in one folder for this tutorial


- Italics and Bold are not formatting though but just adding emphasis like I did above

- Command Line is the best way to use Pandoc

- i typed in the command to open the textwrangler file in word and it did

- thankfully pandoc is better at using zotero than other reference managers as i am familiar with its basics already

- successfully edited the footnotes from the sample although i had some difficulty but that was just caused by misplacement of brackets

- changing citation style was difficult as well

- ended up being something i struggled with in the command line tutorial about trying to do multiple things at once

My Maps & Google Earth

One of the most recent tutorials that was completed in Digital History (hist5702w) was on how to use the Google My Maps and Google Earth applications. These applications both utilize Google’s powerful mapping technology to allow you to do a number of different tasks. My Maps allows you to see a map of the world and add personalized features such as your favourite running routes while Google Earth is designed to allow you to see the globe in a three dimensional fashion and also with special features like satellite imagery and three dimensional buildings.

I found this particular tutorial to be really useful and fun! I will use both of these programs in the coming future for different reasons. For example, I have always wanted a way of keeping track of the accessible restaurants and bars in Ottawa that I like most. My Maps is the perfect program to do just that. It will let me see things like the distance between them, and even possible ways to get to and from them. Google Earth is also going to be helpful down the road but for different reasons. For example it will allow me to see what a place looked like at different points in history and compare it to the present. This is a great feature but one that I will need to look into learning how to use properly.

Below you can find my notes taken during the process of completing this tutorial. Take a look and let me know what you think!

My Maps

Tutorial Notes

- logged into My Maps on Google Maps

How My Maps works:

- You can create a new map to map out anything, from your favourite parks to historic places

- When searching for historic places just be sure that you have the correct name as Google may have different information (for instance Berlin or Constantinople Ontario)

- From the toolbar you can do things like pan the map, drop a pin in it, or draw lines and shapes

- You can also style your map by clicking on the style button on the left side of the menu when you are adding new features to the map.

- You can then share your map online or crowdsource it to get input from others to make your map more powerful

- To import a data set from file just click ‘add layer’ -> ‘import data set’

My First Test Map

- My first map is called ‘Accessible Ottawa’ and it is intended to map out different locations in Ottawa that are wheelchair accessible such as, pubs, restaurants, museums, schools, etc

- Added Sir John A’s pub on Elgin St by searching for it in the search bar

- Then as a sample of importing a data set from file I downloaded the sample CSV file that was provided in the tutorial of different locations around the globe

- It then asks you which column that Google should use from the file to find the locations, in this sample i chose column A) Place

- Then it asks you which column you would like google to use as a title for those locations, in this sample i chose column B) Commodity

- The map contains all the locations where the UK fat imports were located around the world during the 1890s

- My Maps allows you to organize the locations uniformly by clicking ‘style’ -> ‘style by data column’ -> ‘commodities’

- The map then shows all the different locations of each commodity by colour and then living them on the left side menu with the amount of locations that the UK imported that particular commodity at that time

- The program does have many other features including in this instance being able to organize the items by place rather than commodity, but it has limitations such as:

- Only being able to import the first 100 rows of a spreadsheet

- Only allows for three data sets in a map so therefore only three hundred features can be handled

Creating Vector Layers:

- Simply put vector layers are just points, lines or polygons used to mark geographic features

- for example points are often used to mark important locations, lines for railways or roads, and polygons for different areas such as a city ward, or a field

- To add a vector layer click on ‘add layer’ and then rename the layer ‘layer 2′ or whatever you prefer

- NOTE: Beside the title of the layer there is a checkbox, when the checkbox is not checked it will not appear in your map

- Base Map: At the bottom of the menu window, there is a line that says ‘base map’. A base map is a map** depicting background reference information such as roads, borders, landforms, etc. on top of which layers containing different types of spatial information can be placed. Google’s Maps allows you to choose from a variety of base maps, depending on the kind of map you want to create.

- A commonly used base map is satellite imagery but that can often be distracting

- You can choose which base map you would like to use by clicking on the arrow to the left of ‘base map’

- When you click on it a submenu appears that lists options such as:

- satellite

- light political

- light and dark landmass

- simple atlas

- mono city

- whitewater

- To add a point on the map or ‘Marker’ you click on the add marker button under the search menu

- When you do so it will appear under ‘Layer 1′

- To add a Line or Shape to the map you need to click the ‘add line or shape’ icon box directly to the right of the Markers symbol – You can add details about these lines and shapes in the same way that you add details about the Markers

- You then connect the dots of the line to create a formation

- This is useful for outlining farmers fields or city boundaries

- I had a bit of trouble with this but managed to make jagged lines and link them but not any perfectly straight

- you can then share your map online with the ‘Share’ feature which lets you share it through any social media such as Facebook or email

- you can also share it by embedding it in your blog or website

- another option that it gives you is to export the map or individual layers so that you can use it in other programs like Google Maps which I managed to do successfully

Google Earth

- Similar to Google Maps Engine Lite but with additional features

- For example, it provides 3-D maps and access to data from numerous third party sources, including collections of historical maps

- Google Maps also doesn’t require you to install anything on your computer while Google Earth does

- You can choose for the application to display any number of different layers of information including:

- Borders

- Roads

- 3D Buildings

- Ocean

- Weather

- Gallery

- Global Awareness

- and more

- It also has the option of displaying historical maps

- For example the world globe from different years in history

KML (Keynote Markup Language) Files

- this is a file format that was developed by google to save and export data

- it can store many different types of GIS data, including vector data

- it also allows you to import maps from other platforms including Google My Maps

- I successfully downloaded the ‘Map of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project’

- You can also add special features to your map to your map in the same way you could in My Maps such as different lines and styles

- You can even go so far as to record a tour of the map which may be useful for presentations

- Successfully added a few different paths and shapes to the map

- you can even go so far as to search for a specific location in the menu bar on the left and ‘fly’ there

- tutorial asked that i ‘fly’ to lake st clair and draw a border around it

- this was accomplished successfully

- next i successfully added this polygon into the map of the st lawrence seaway project

- then i saved this new version of the map as a kml file by right clicking on the seaway and then choosing ‘save place as or email’

Adding Scanned Historical Maps

- Google Earth gives you the power to add historical maps to the globe

- main purpose for uploading a digital map, from a historical perspective, is to place it over top of a Google Earth image in the browser. This is known as an overlay. Performing an overlay allows for useful comparisons of change over time.

- to accomplish this you begin by clicking on the ‘show historical imagery’ button on the top of the toolbar

- then when you choose the images you plan to use, click on the ‘Add Image Overlay’ icon on the top toolbar

- unfortunately i can’t seem to find this button but maybe somebody out there will be able to help figure that out…

Topic Modelling

This week I had the opportunity to lead the class in a discussion about topic modelling. What is that you ask? Well it is basically a group of computer programs, Mallet being the most common (which we were working with), that take a text and try to extract topics from that text. Now, computers obviously do not understand the meanings of the words that are extracted from the text but they are able to find relationships between them by judging the frequency in which they appear. From these relationships words are then placed into baskets by the computer that are given a topic as a title.

Working with Mallet manually through the command line though is a ver strenuous and meticulous process. For this reason Dr Graham suggested that I use a GUI (Graphical User Interface) program that runs on Mallet. This program is much more user friendly for me as it allows me to navigate and create a topic model by clicking rather than typing in code on the command line. The only downside being that the options were then limited to what the program thought was necessary and not what I may have considered necessary. Whereas if I was working with Mallet directly on the command line I could specify the instructions a bit more for my needs.

When completing this tutorial, I had a few different hiccups along the way. First was making a solidified list of stopwords (list of words for the computer to ignore during its analysis) that would help me find more detailed topics. Thanks to the help of Dr Graham I was guided to a list of stopwords that was published by a historian known as Ted Underwood. This list consisted of over 6,000 words including Roman numerals. Once I began using this list the topics that the computer began making topics that were highly accurate when it came to analyzing my thesis. Another hiccup that I came across was figuring out how to analyze multiple files at one time when using the GUI. This was quickly figured out by being shown that instead of selecting the individual files, I simply select the files that they are all in. So if I was wanting to select multiple article sources from research that I had done for instance I would just put them all in one file then select that file in particular. Finally, I had great trouble figuring out how to visualize these models with Excel. For instance graphs can be made that show how different words relate to one another. This in particular is something that I will have to continue to look at as I have yet to completely grasp it.

Below are the notes that I took during the process of completing this tutorial…

What is Topic Modelling?
– topic modelling tools like Mallet look at patterns in the use of words in an attempt to inject local meaning behind vocabulary
– tools like this are transforming the practice of reading into what Matthew Kirschenbaum calls ‘distant reading’
– What is meant by this is that computers and programs such as Google are making scanning millions of books for themes and patterns at the same time possible
– just because you can use these programs though doesn’t mean you should
– If you are trying to look over only one document for instance tools like Volant Tools, that count frequency of words may get the job done just fine
– topic modelling is all about finding topics in mass amounts of texts
– texts can be anything from a blog post to an email to a book
– Topic modelling programs do not know anything about the meaning of the words in a text.
– Instead, they assume that any piece of text is composed (by an author) by selecting words from possible baskets of words where each basket corresponds to a topic. If that is true, then it becomes possible to mathematically
– decompose a text into the probable baskets from whence the words first came.
– The tool goes through this process over and over again until it settles on the most likely distribution of words into baskets, which we call topics.
– Topic Modelling is often referred to synonymously as LDA

– when working on Mallet in the Terminal always remember to add ./ before entering a command
– There are 9 mallet commands that we can learn and sometimes we can even combine these instructions
– after attempting to work with while I am trying to use a different program that is essentially the same concept, however it is a GUI. Unlike Terminal I will not have to meticulously enter each command manually but rather have a much less tiring way of completing the tutorial by clicking on different options
– seeing as I don’t have the sample .txt files provided by Mallet I will use some of the sources from my thesis to complete the tutorial
– First I imported the files that I wanted to analyze
– next i made sure that there was stop words in place (it had already automatically set itself up to remove the default Mallet stop words such as, and, the, of, but, if, etc)
– however i wanted to make sure that the stop words were more comprehensive so that it would find more meaningful themes in the file
– so i googled stop word dictionary and it lead me to (Dr Graham suggested that i use ted underwood’s list of stopwords that contains over 6000 words including roman numerals found here:
– I filled out all the stop words that it had under a new text file in text wrangler but cannot figure out how to activate it instead of the default Mallet stop words as whenever I try to open a stop word file it does not let me open any files inside of the user hollispeirce
– makes me think that perhaps i could solve this problem by saving it outside of these files…
– only file i am able to get into is the dropbox folder
– managed to save it in dropbox but when i went to open it it did not appear so I will continue on with simply using the default mallet list
– the first time i attempted to have it learn 200 topics i asked it to learn 200 topics iterations and print 10 topic with a 0.05 proportion threshold. with 200 different topics
– it spat out 200 lines of random words, majority of which did not relate to the overall theme of the thesis paper but included things like “gz, uv, ku, rr, autumn,” etc
– HOWEVER when i reduced the number of iterations dramatically to a much more reasonable list that is much more accurate and includes words such as “incunabula, book, digital, information, ebook, scroll, history, disabled” but does include a few two letter words like the other so i will try reducing the number of iterations again
– that didn’t appear to do anything
– I attempted to import all the files of my thesis into one importation but could not not figure out how to open it with text wrangler after converting it from a .docx file to a .txt file even though it opened just fine in text editor (i will try opening the .docx file in text wrangler and see if that solves the issue)
– solved this issue by being shown by dr graham that i only highlight the file that the .txt files that are needing to be analyzed are in
– only problem with that was that the file not only contained my thesis .txt files but also contained the settings for Notational Velocity which, as he explained was why i was getting a bunch of random two letter words in my list of topics
– to solve this problem all i need to do is create a new file that only has my thesis inside of it
– so i then did this but it did not create a list of topic words in the topic modelling like it normally did but instead it just repeated where the topics were saved
– when i looked the file up though it had worked as suspected and excluded all the two letter words so now i just need to narrow the topics to be even more specific
– having trouble making a chart with topic model from my thesis so i am going to try using the jesuit relations files

Opening Doors To Massive Amounts of Metadata with OpenRefine

One of this weeks tutorials taught us about how to analyze metadata using a tool called OpenRefine. OpenRefine is a program that is built to clean data that has been accumulated information that is unneeded. There are four major examples of things that it can help with and they are, eliminate duplicate records, separate multiple values in the same field, analyse the distribution of values throughout a data set and finally, group together different representations of the same reality.

From the description it sounds incredibly useful and it will be once I continue to work with it and get used to its ins and outs. However, when first beginning with OpenRefine I had great difficulty just opening it so my first impression was not great. I managed to work out that kink though with Dr Graham as he thankfully helped me figure out that I was not going crazy and that it was not working the way it should have been.

When I began working with it once I had successfully got into the program, I followed the steps but made some kind of mistake so that my numbers did not match those on the tutorial. Despite this though, the program seemed to be altering the numbers in a correct fashion. Everything went well and it has convinced me that it can be useful in future projects.

Below you will find all of my notes kept while completing the tutorial…



- Using OpenRefine can help us with 4 things relating to cleaning data

1. Remove duplicate records

2. Separate multiple values contained in the same field

3.  Analyze the distribution of values throughout a data set

4. Group together different representations of the same reality

- as data gets reused more and more online we need to be sure that it maintains its quality Open Refine helps us with issues like this

- OpenRefine not only allows you to quickly diagnose the accuracy of your data, but also to act upon certain errors in an automated manner.

How OpenRefine Works

- Average spreadsheet programs are really designed to work on one cell, row or column at a time whereas IDTs like OpenRefine are designed to work on much larger amounts of data all at once

- allows users to identify concepts from unstructured texts (this is what is called Name-Entity-Recognition [NER])


- Major problem getting OpenRefine to work as it was downloading successfully on my computer but the only problem was that Google Chrome was blocking it from being active

- once i figured this out i managed to successfully select the document that the tutorial instructed me to work with

- I then followed the instructions and unselected the checkbox marked ‘Quotation marks are used to enclose cells containing column separators’ as PH states that the quotes inside the file have no meaning to the file

- Taking the next step I clicked “Create Project” and it created over 75,800 rows of data

- It then suggests that I can open the persistent link to see the object on the museum website but I can’t see the link…

- Not quite understanding what difference it makes by looking at the data through different facets as it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the data

- was a little confused so i restarted and it came up with fewer rows than the original document, maybe it still remembered the facets that i was working with earlier.

- Solved this problem the next day by clicking on the redo button and they gave me the option of starting from scratch. When I did this all 75,814 rows came back

- moving on to detecting and removing duplicates

- successfully reordered the file numbers from biggest to smallest by clicking sort > numbers > largest/smallest

- also did smallest to biggest but for some reason I could not see button that said make change permanent…

- I then successfully removed duplicates by clicking edit cells > back down

- then turned those cells blank by clicking ‘Facet’ > ‘Customized facets’ > ‘Facet by blank’

- then successfully chose which ones matched that category and eliminated them all by clicking true’, and removing them using the ‘All’ triangle (‘Edit rows’ > ‘Remove all matching rows’)

- I did though get different numbers than they have in the tutorial due to a previous mistake I made somewhere

- next I successfully split the multi-valued cells by clicking the Edit cells’ > ‘Split multi-valued cells options

- again this was successful but I believe my numbers are skewed from theirs as I did not maintain the steps taken yesterday

- can switch between ‘rows’ and ‘records’ view by clicking on the so-labelled links just above the column headers. In the ‘rows view’, each row represents a couple of Record IDs and a single Category, enabling manipulation of each one individually. The ‘records view’ has an entry for each Record ID, which can have different categories on different rows (grouped together in grey or white), but each record is manipulated as a whole

- narrowing down your meta data into different facets allows you to visualize how your information is broken down and it also allows you to see what different types of categories match multiple pieces of data that you may not have imagined

- successfully exported the metadata into a html file using the export tab on the upper right of the screen