Computational Digital Humanities: Command Line Fundamentals
David J. Birnbaum University of Pittsburgh
Emma Schwarz University of Pittsburgh
Perhaps the greatest practical challenge in any hands-on workshop in the computational Digital Humanities is the variation in background knowledge of the computing environment that the participants bring to the class. The goal of our course, which we first taught as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Institute in Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities in summer 2017, is to provide a fundamental groundwork of computational skills and knowledge that cannot reliably be assumed of digital humanists, and that is needed for any meaningful interaction with the computer beyond the constraints of specific application software. Outcome goals include the following: Understanding operating system conventions (Windows, Mac, Linux); Navigating and working with files, directories, and programs; Creating and saving aliases; Understanding and dealing with error messages; Interpreting and producing regular expressions for simple textual search patterns; Editing within the command line interface; Data workflow in the command shell; Understanding how communication over the Internet works; Understanding why version control matters; Understanding the Git workflow (using the command line Git client); Understanding project organization, coordination, and management; Understanding and writing HTML, CSS and Markdown; Transforming documents using Pandoc.
DH researchers who are interested in acquiring the command-line skills that are necessary for development, and that are often prerequisites for more advanced courses. In the past this has included faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduate students, digital scholarship librarians, "alt-ac" digital humanities and other technology professionals, and independent scholars and researchers.