Building a better data trap; or, why data structures matter

Historians appear to be quite happy with tables. Tables are neat, orderly repositories of information. Rank and file, we input our names, dates, and other titbits of historical data. Rank and file, we organise our world into an unending supply of lists — lists providing the relevant percentages, absolute enumerations or qualitative descriptions of anything […]

Anatomy of a Newspaper: The Caledonian Mercury, 20 June 1825

After nearly a year of cleaning, processing, refining, reprocessing and analysing data, I felt cautiously optimistic about my results. Derived from the British Library 19th Century Newspapers collection, I had compiled a list of reprinting—perhaps better characterised as duplication—between 1800 and 1865. After initial filtering, I was the happy owner of 780 individual monthly manifests […]

The Platonic Ideal of a Newspaper Article

In 2014, I began to convert my newspapers transcriptions–stored haphazardly in a variety of plain text and Word documents, as well as Access, OneNote and Evernote databases–into XML. The value of structured data was immediately apparent, but the means for structuring it were not. My first attempts were as haphazard as my previous storage solutions. […]

Figshare and Share Alike

Stepping outside an echo chamber is always a bit unnerving. When I speak to academics about social media, open access and other forms of public engagement, I am usually speaking to the converted, or those who very much want to be converted. Many of the conferences and workshops I attend are advertised and organised to […]

Georgian Pingbacks Project

In the wild west of the World Wide Web, if you compose a hilarious joke, provide a simple solution to a complex problem or break a major new story, it is almost certain that your work will be copied. Although intellectual property laws exist, they are inconsistently enforced because of the sheer number of sites […]