Getting started

I’ve been thinking about starting an academic blog long enough, it’s time for me to get started.

Why would I do such a thing? In part because I’ve come across such inspiring blogs as Ted Underwood’s, Matthew Jockers’, and Jeff Atwood’s, to cite just a few, which prove that if a blog is lame, it is not necessarily due to the nature of the media (awkward as it may seem, this is actually intended to be a praise to these authors).

Also, I’m the author of an open source text analysis program called Orange Textable, whose most salient feature is its adoption of a visual programming interface. This design aims to provide non-technical users—in particular typical humanists—with (part of) the computing power normally reserved to programmers, albeit (almost) without coding, and of course within the restricted domain of text analysis.

Being the author of a software tool doesn’t make a compelling case for starting a blog per se, but the nature of Orange Textable‘s user interface is such that it can be more easily understood, I believe, through the examination of a number of diverse use cases. And since I’m frequently exploring such use cases in the course of the software’s development, I figured it might be useful to document them in passing on a blog.

I’d also like to use this channel as a means to share my views on some more general issues about Humanities computing and text analysis in particular. I hope that teaching in this field for a couple of years has given me a notion of ways in which beginners could avoid getting right from the start habits that they’ll wish to get rid of when they get more experienced. Best practices, if you will.

And who knows, maybe this turns out to be a good way to draft a book on visual programming for text analysis…

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