One Year Anniversary

Some reflections

A reflection on the first year writing this blog on Digital Humanities and R

6 June 2018

It was a year ago today that I launched this website with a post introducing myself and the goals for the blog. When I launched the site, I was at the beginning of teaching myself about digital humanities and how to code in R. Building this Hugo site was part of my learning process. I learned about the command line, Git, and GitHub, not to mention a bit of HTML and CSS to get the website up and going. I also wanted to share my progress and provide information for others who might want to go down a similar path. Over the past year I have gone from a coding newbie to actively working on two digital humanities projects and closing in on the launch of my first R package that makes it easier to work with historical non-decimal currencies.

After writing a couple of posts on my thoughts about digital humanities, I have concentrated on writing posts about using R to analyze and visualize historical data. I have always tried to adopt the perspective of a newcomer to code and to R, since I was in that position not all that long ago. The rsats community has done an admirable job in trying to make learning R as approachable as possible, but there is no way around the fact that learning to code is a daunting task. My posts have mainly focused on using R for GIS and network analysis since these are the two topics most pertinent to the digital humanities projects I have been working on. Writing posts on these topics proved to be the best way for me to learn not only how to create maps and network graphs with R but also about the fields of GIS and network analysis in general.

Even if no one read my posts they would have been useful endeavors for all that I learned through writing them. However, the most gratifying aspect of writing this blog has been hearing that the content has proven useful to others in their efforts to learn R. It has been particularly amazing and amusing to hear from people in the sciences and think about biologists and chemists learning to code by analyzing letters from a sixteenth-century merchant in the Low Countries, which is the data set that I have used in my posts.

I never could have imagined that this website and my blog posts would be read by very many people, and I have been amazed by the steady stream of visitors that continue to read the website daily. The digital humanities and rstats communities have been amazingly open and welcoming, and I never could have gotten this far nor had this much fun without the kindness of the people in these communities. I have received very generous encouragement and increased visibility through tweeting out my posts from Maëlle Salmon, Mara Averick, Hadley Wickham, and the great R4DS community among many others. To these individuals and to the entire community that has come to read my blog I can only say thank you.

In a nice little coincidence this is the 11th post to the blog and pushes my first introductory post to the second page of blog entries. I am looking forward to the next year of continuing to learn more about digital humanities and R and writing about my experiences on this blog, pushing more and more posts to the second page and beyond.