Matthew Lavin (University of Pittsburgh)
Anyone who has tried to learn a programming language can attest to the fact that working with code requires a way of thinking that many if not most people are not used to. If I miss a comma in Microsoft Word, my document will still print. If I forget the title of a book but describe its plot to my colleague, she will probably know the book I mean. If asked provided a date for a piece of correspondence, “November 190?” might be a reasonable designation. Coding, in contrast, requires a different kind of precision, which is often an early hurdle to teaching arts and humanities students basic programming skills.
Jupyter Notebooks are meant to facilitate “open source, interactive data science and scientific computing across over 40 programming languages” (Project Jupyter). A Jupyter Notebook can present live, working code that multiple people can inspect, run, and even change (see attached screenshots). As a result of their more graphical and interactive features, Jupyter Notebooks make excellent educational tools, especially for people who are relatively new to code.
In this workshop, I will share some my experiences using Jupyter Notebooks for digital humanities tutorials and scholarship. It will include an overview of what Jupyter Notebooks are and how they work; a brief introduction to Python 3, and how to work with it in a Notebook environment; and some interesting examples of how Jupyter Notebooks can help facilitate writing and sharing digital humanities code (mostly text analysis). Participants need not know anything about Python before participating. In fact, no prior coding experience is necessary, although a quick review of terms like “digital literacy” and “code literacy” would be ideal.
Matthew J. Lavin is a Clinical Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Digital Media Lab at the University of Pittsburgh. From 2012 to 2013, Lavin served as a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. From 2013 to 2015, he was Associate Program Coordinator for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Initiative “Crossing Boundaries: Re-Envisioning the Humanities for the 21st Century” at St. Lawrence University. His current scholarship focuses on the intersection of digital humanities, book history, and U.S. literature.