A note on pre-requisite tutorials

A note on pre-requisite tutorials

by emilykkeyes (01-29-2016)

Having now managed to get a few Programming Historian tutorials under my belt (with great difficulty), I have a suggestion to make.

In almost all of the Programming Historian tutorials I’ve completed they refer back to previous Programming Tutorials, suggesting that the reader/user complete those prior to completing this tutorial. This in itself is fine. Obviously to move forward, they idea is to build on previous knowledge.

The problem arises when you get to the pre-requisite tutorial, and IT recommends you complete a pre-requisite tutorial. For example, in Data Mining the Internet Archive Collection, they explain that you will need something called pip. They recommend that you download this using the instructions in the Installing Python Module with pip tutorial. Okay, fine. But then when you get to the Installing Python Module with pip, they explain that the easiest way to install pip is by using a python program….what if I don’t have Python installed? Or even know what Python is? Well, there’s a Programming Historian tutorial for that, which is great. But what ends up happening is I spend the time I should have been spending completing my first tutorial, completing this tutorial, and then have to work my way back.

My advice would be that each tutorial be self-contained. Obviously, this can’t be the case for every one, but by continually sending users to other tutorials you risk losing them. As one of the targeted users for the Programming Historian tutorials, I likely would have given up if I hadn’t been required to complete it for class. Harsh, but true.

Otherwise, keep up the good work Programming Historians!


Automated Downloading with Wget

Programming Historian Tutorial, by Ian Milligan
by emilykkeyes (01-27-2016)

Each week in #hist5702w, we’re assigned tutorials/readings. The tutorials usually come from The Programming Historian, a website that offers tutorials on digital tools/techniques for historians/individuals.

This week’s tutorial focused on a tool called Wget, which can help you download online material. I was very excited about how I might be able to use this tool, since in my part-time work with Know History we often need to download a large number of historical documents (in most cases census records, birth records etc.) Usually in these cases the task of copy and saving these files falls to me. Not only is this usually tedious, but there is a huge margin for error, not to mention the decisions that need to be made on how these documents should be filed and stored once they are downloaded.

Just looking at the tutorially, I was already  appreciated how it was broken down for Mac and Windows users. In this course I’ve been cautioned that Windows is very different (i.e. more problematic) than Mac.

The first issue I ran into was the downloading instructions. Admittedly, this was more of a reader/user error. Eagerly following the link to download Wget, I was immediately confused with all the download options:

so many options

So many options, what version do I need?!

Lucikly, per the #hist5702w mantra, I turned to my classmates (shout out to Laurel), and the problem was easily solved. What I needed was just wget.exe.

Second problem, again a great reader/user problem! When downloading wget.exe, I did not put it in the right directory. Instead of putting it in C:Windows, I left it in C:. This would cause problems for me later, forcing me to start at the top of the tutorial and read carefully again (something I’m growing increasingly familiar with doing…there’s a lesson to be learned there, but maybe I just need to be hit with it a few more times.) Again, shout out to Laurel for bringing this error to my attention.

SO, finally armed and ready with wget.exe, I proceeded to input the commands using Powershell. Powershell was used in the Command Line Bootcamp tutorial was recommended at the beginning of the Wget tutorial, so I went with that. (side bar: that was a great tutorial. Really clear and easy to follow along.)

Moving along, I was fine, right up until this appeared on my screen:

wget issues

…well this doesn’t look like what the tutorial said it would.

Again, turning to my trusty DH guide, Laurel stepped in. Deciding to give Powershell the proverbial finger, Laurel switched me to CommandPrompt. Repeating the steps, things worked fine, and I finally completed the tutorial yahoo!

Thoughts on Wget: It seems like it could be an immensely useful program to download journal articles, historical documents etc. However, I’m curious to see what kind problems you’d encounter trying to download from an archival repository such as Library and Archives Canada. Do they have safeguards in place? Also, what are the implications of ripping documents from their archival context?

Complete the Wget tutorial here.


Hi everyone!

I’m currently taking a Digital History course at Carleton University, and for the class we are encouraged to keep a blog about online tutorials we’ve completed, and issues related to DH. So, for the next few months you’ll likely see some posts from me about this. If you’re interested, please take a look (I’m doing my best to write them for a general audience), but if not, please just go ahead and pass over them.



Why am I taking this class?

by emilykkeyes (01-12-2016)

I’m interested in taking this class because I’m hoping to learn more about Digital History. While this seems like a generic answer, I’m interested in the issues that are being discussed. On our first day Dr. Graham raised a good point, which was that historians  often get so excited about the digital that they  forget to look at it like any other source.

Not only am I guilty of this, I can see parallels in my own research of performance history. Often an audience forgets that costumes, lighting, casting etc., is done deliberately, designed to present the events in a particular way, whether it is to make it more dramatic, relatable, etc. A helpful example is looking at the most recent adaptation of Macbeth. The three witches (classic and memorable characters in the story) rather than looking like this:

V0025894 Macbeth meets the three witches; scene from Shakespeare's 'M

V0025894 Macbeth meets the three witches; scene from Shakespeare’s ‘M Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Macbeth meets the three witches; scene from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Wood engraving, 19th century. after: William ShakespearePublished: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Look more like this:


This isn’t because the director thought himself better than Shakespeare, but because creepy children provide the contemporary audience with the same cringe factor that witches provided Shakespeare’s audience.

I’m also interested in learning more about Digital History for future career opportunities. Just from going over the syllabus, I can see many ways in which the skills I’ll be learning could help my work as a historical researcher. The most obvious is a better learning about SNA, something we use a lot in our genealogy work.

Sitting down to think about my experience with Digital History, I actually have a bit more experience than I gave myself credit for (not that this is a lot.) My lovely and forward thinking parents enrolled me in Virtual Ventures (a summer camp run by the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton Univerrsity), and I remember learning how to create my own website using html (complete with garish colours, and images.) It seems I couldn’t escape html, as I later had to deal with it in high school when I was enrolled in a special course where we created things like photographic essays using PowerPoint, built websites using html etc.

Other than those two examples, my experience is relatively small. I am the go to “tech” person at my office, which generally means I am in charge of fixing the printer, and setting up laptops. I also manage the company’s online presence, including running the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.

I’d like to come away from the course having a better understanding of the nitty-gritty behind Digital History, and how these tools and programs can help my research. I can tell already that this can be done, and that the more I put in the more I will get out.

Beneath floes



In my Digital History seminar at Carleton University we were introduced to this game, called Beneath Floes. It is a hypertext story, where players can chose between different links to progress through the game.

The game features a number of different Inuit myths, including the  Qalupalik, a creature with human-like characteristics, who kidnaps and drags children below the ice. (Some of you might remember this story from Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak’s “A Promise is a Promise.”)

The game can be played in Inuktitut, something which is pretty rare. In our seminar we talked about how hypertext games such as this (which you can create using an open-source tool such as Twine) can be used to showcase narratives/characters/themes frequently omitted from mainstream games.

It’s a unique way to learn and interact with Inuit mythology, so if that interests you, take a peak!