Lab 1 // Environment setup // January 9


Did you know that W&L offers unlimited cloud storage while you're a student? We will use for assignment delivery and other course materials. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the platform.

The easiest way to use Box is to download Box Drive. This makes your Box folders act like another folder on your computer. Download here:

Text editors

Microsoft Word or Google Drive are great apps for writing papers. They make it easy to style and present a document. However, to work with text in a programmatic way, or to write code, we need a different app. MS Word adds a lot of hidden styling and other baggage that we don't need. One of the best features of text editors is that they can detect what language you're writing in and highlight the elements in different colors.

There are a lot of options for text editors. You're welcome to try on a few before choosing. I use Atom and Sublime Text, so I recommend you install it for consistency. is a new framework for open annotation of the web. It operates via a Chrome extension allowing you to make private and public comments on websites. I have set up a private group for our course as there will be some readings that we annotate as a group.


Zotero is a citation manager. It operates via a browser plugin so you can capture citation information directly from the web. There is also a standalone desktop app (and text mining possibilities!) as well. There's even a plug-in for MS Word that will automatically generate your bibliography.

Lab Report

I'll verify the completion

Lab 2 // HTML + CSS // January 9

For these exercises, you will need to a text editor and a brower other than Safari.


HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language, is one of the basic building blocks of the web. HTML is a set of tags that add structure to documents. When you write a document, you rely on style to indicate something about the text. You might put the title in a bigger font or break up paragraphs with tabs or new lines. Markup languages do this by adding tags around the content you wish to set apart. For example: <title>The Lord of the Rings</title> or <p>This is a whole paragraph.</p> Your human eyes and brain can infer things based on visual appear that computers need to be told explicitly. That's why we need semantic markup.

Documentation for HTML lives here at the W3 Schools.

  1. Open your favorite text editor and using the W3 Schools as a guide, write your own HTML document.
  2. Save the file as index.html in your Box folder in a separate folder titled: Lab2.
  3. To view your page in the browswer, open index.html in your browser, usually with the key commands Ctrl + o
  4. You should include the basic set of tags: <body></body>
  5. Add five additional types of tags to the body of your HTML document, including a table.
  6. Add an additional HTML page and link the two pages.


Our next building block of the web is CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets. HTML structures your webpage, but you need something else to add the pretty colors and images. CSS has a different syntax than HTML. First you identify the HTML tag, then you declare the styles you wish to apply. title {color: red;}

See some basic CSS at the W3 Schools CSS tutorial.

  1. Create a separate CSS document and save it as style.css in the same folder you created for the HTML activity.
  2. Link the style.css file to your HTML document. Consult the W3 Schools to figure out how to do this.
  3. Add a background color.
  4. Change the border on your table.
  5. Add style to your links when you hover over them.

Lab Report

All your HTML and CSS documents should be saved to Box by class time on Thursday the 11th.

Lab 3 // Command line

Most of us interact with our computers or phones through highly visual interfaces. We know what button to press because of the stylized image representing it. We understand what it means when a website has a blue "f" or when a friend sends a thumbs-up emoji. Your computer, regardless of operating system, wants to interact with you via visual cues. We call these Graphical User Interfaces aka GUI (pronounced gooey).

But there's another way. You can interact with your computer entirely via text commands through something called a Command Line Interface or CLI. When you see a hacker typing green text into a black box in a movie, they're using the command line. But the command line isn't just for hacking.

Why then?

  • The command line gives you power. It frees you from a lot of clicking and lets you inhabit a world where your computer does exactly what you say.
  • The command line lets you script and automate tasks and processes. It lets you perform the same set of actions on a one file or on many files many times over.
  • The command line is often used for installing and running DH tools.
  • The command line is a helpful tool for inspecting and altering data.


If you're on a Mac, search for an app called Terminal.

If you're on Windows, open cmd.exe or Powershell.


There are a lot of resources for learning the command line. We'll be using The Command Line Crash Course in this class.

Programming Historian offers Intro to the Bash Command Line and Intro to Powershell.

Scholars' Lab has a great tutorial.

Lab Report

  1. Type history in the command line.
  2. Copy and paste the results to a text file.
  3. Save as lab3.txt in Box.

Lab 4 // Metadata! // January 25

Time to practice writing metadata! I will bring a selection of physical and digital objects for you to describe.

  1. Open this form.
  2. Select an item. When you're finished, move on to another.
  3. Work individually to fill out one form entry for each item. You may have to do some research to find out more information. Pay attention to the kinds of searches or words you use and note that in the form.
  4. Include your initials to receive credit for this lab.
  5. Results

Dublin Core

  • Item number - the number I've written on a slip of paper to identify the item.
  • Title - A name given to the resource.
  • Creator - An entity primarily responsible for making the resource.
  • Subject - The topic of the resource.
  • Description - A summary or accounty of the resource.
  • Publisher - entity responsible for making the resource available.
  • Contributor - An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource.
  • Date - when the item was created/published
  • Type - the nature or genre
  • Format - details about the physical/digital format
  • Identifier - is there a unique identifier?
  • Source - did this resource come from somewhere?
  • Language - Primary language of the material.
  • Relation - are there related resources?
  • Coverage - spatial or temporal
  • Rights - Information about rights held in and over the resource, usually copyright.

Lab 5 // Glitch art! // February 8

Glitch art is a thing.

  1. Find an image online or on your computer and add a COPY to your Box folder.
  2. Make a couple copies of the image so you'll have a master file to work with.
  3. In Finder or File Explorer, change the file extension to .txt.
  4. Open the new .txt file in a text editor (Sublime, etc).
  5. Don't touch the top 10% of the text. This contains the header and will break the file.
  6. Otherwise, go ahead and delete text, move it around, copy and paste, add new text, find and replace characters, etc.
  7. Save the file, then go back to the Finder and change the extension back to the original file time. Open the image now - what do you see?
  8. Make another piece of glitch art. This time, can you save a secret message in the image?

Image Glitch Tool | Tutorial on Databending and Glitch Art

Lab Report

Two pieces of glitch art in your Box folder.

Lab 6 // File types // February 8

Let's get to know the types of files that make up our every day digital lives. You'll work in small groups to do some research on the files that make up the following topics. It is okay to consult Wikipedia and other web-based sources, but keep a critical eye.

  1. Video (Youtube, Netflix, iMovie, Instagram, etc)
  2. Gaming (console or web-based)
  3. Images (JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG)
  4. Music (MP3, OGG, WAV)
  5. Text (PDF, Word doc, .txt, etc)
  • First, how do you interact with these types of files in your daily life? On what devices? Discuss.
  • Conduct a basic inventory of the types of files that are used in your topic. Be specific, what are the file extensions?
  • Which files types are open and which are proprietary?
  • What software do you need to open those files? Does that software cost money? What would happen if the owning company went away?
  • Can you download the files? Can you edit them? Or are they locked in a container?
  • Can you create glitch art with them?
  • Are the files raw/loss-less or compressed?
  • How much space does the average file take up?
  • Have these file types evolved over time?
  • Remember Owens? Can you find examples of 1) informational 2) artefactual or 3) folkloric file types?

Lab report

Create a shared doc in Box/docs-dh180 to collect your findings.

Lab 7 // Born Digital Collections // February 15

Time to actually look at some born digital collections! In groups, select one of the following:

  • Internet Archive
  • Archive-it
  • Smithsonian
  • Library of Congress
  • DocNow

  • First things first, tell me about the institution/group. Who are they? Or, who do they represent?

  • Can you find the born digital collections? How easy was it? Do they use different terminology?
  • What is their collection scope? That is, what type of topics do they cover? In what format?
  • Can you find anything about their preservation strategy?
  • What about METADATA? How well are the collections described? How easy is it figure out what the collection is about?
  • What is the copyright situation? Can you find a rights statement?
  • Which collections do you find most interesting? Useful? Surprising?

Lab 8 // Twarc with Alyssa Collins

  • Worksheet
  • Twarc
  • Lab Report: save a copy of the Worksheet to our saved Box folder. Also save your HTML to your Box folder.

Lab 9 // Project work // March 15

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