So much for the “Alt,” now for some “Ac”

My official work day ended by responding to a note from Security that some software libraries on some servers I’m responsible for are vulnerable. Emergency fix required, which I took care of. I’m reminded of a recent blog post of Miriam Posner‘s wherein she lists the required resources for an ambitious DH project:

“…time from a developer, time from a designer, time from a metadata specialist, time from a sys admin, project management expertise, server space, a commitment to host the project in the long term”

I’m not a file server of course, and long-term hosting is something we’re actively discussing a way forward on. The rest I have covered as a single resource, so that’s what a composite Day of DH is for me, anyway. Add to that research design expertise and my personal academic interests. I get the feeling I’m a rare bird in this way, but no, this is not pure self-backpatting; there is a price in depth paid for with breadth, which I know too well and hope to reconcile one day.

The day/night is young. There are few days I don’t work into the evening at home; guess as a DH newbie I still feel I have something to prove, or maybe it’s just that even if I’ve over-committed, that doesn’t de-value the “committed” part.

So this evening I will put the finishing touches on a manuscript for an encyclopedia entry on the topic of Spatial Concepts, read and comment on the latest draft of another manuscript — this one co-authored with Claudia Engel and Elijah Meeks, read (yet another) Hodder paper to see if what I’m building corresponds to theory, and do a little research on getting iPython notebooks going.

With Colbert and Rachel Maddow on in the background.

“Guessing the Functionality of a Library You Only Know a Third Of in Action”

It is possible to author web pages from scratch, using HTML, CSS and native JavaScript, and if all your data lived in files locally, it could have some (but not much) interesting functionality. If you’re building a web application, we almost always resort to libraries written by others. Maybe it’s just D3.js and PHP.


In the case of the Çatalhöyük Living Archive, I’ve chosen to make use of not only D3.js, and PHP for getting data from PostgreSQL, but jQuery (can’t help it, I love it), and something called SlickGrid. SlickGrid manages very large datasets at lightning speed, and has all sorts of great capabilities (sort on multiple columns, build selections, edit cells, etc. etc.)

Trouble is, the library (actually a set of libraries and plugins) is enormous, has its own preferred structure for data objects, and is only partially documented. Bless mliebman‘s heart (the author), it is a tour de force and a terrific time-saver for me. This notice appeared on its GitHub wiki:

UPDATE: March 5th, 2014 – I have too many things going on in my life right now to really give SlickGrid support and development the time and attention it deserves. I am not stopping it, but I will most likely be unresponsive for some time. Sorry.

So some of what mliebman giveth (time), SlickGrid takes away, when I find myself in the fairly routine situation of having to guess functionality (b/c I haven’t taken the time to read and memorize the API). So on this Day of DH I spent some time at a routine class of activity, guessing what certain calls to SlickGrid’s onSelectedRowsChanged() function might do. Tried this, tried that.

The same holds for jQuery and D3.js – hence the title of our forthcoming book “Guessing the Functionality of a Library You Only Know a Third Of in Action.” I will be mostly responsible for the first part.

My colleague Elijah Meeks will cover a significant section towards the end, titled “So Now you Know Two Thirds and Think You’re in the Clear.” He can also take the epilog, “Now you’re at 3/4 — Time to Write a Book.” I will cover the earlier sections, as I have considerable experience there.

Okay, okay

Since entering the DH universe in January, 2012 I’ve never been busier. By and large, this is fantastic, on occasion daunting. I routinely over-commit.

Today I’m crunching to have more new and wonderful functionality to show for a 2pm meeting with the Çatalhöyük Living Archive project team. That’s @Elijah_Meeks and myself working with and for Ian Hodder, Claudia Engel and several of Professor Hodder’s students–Allison Mickel, Justine Issavi, and Camilla Mazzucato–to publish and interpret 21 years fo Catal data in new and exciting ways. In fact, our goal is to produce an Interactive Grant Proposal, because what we’ve envisioned will take far longer than our one-year engagement to build in entirety.


Today’s postings will be a series of screen shots of my workspace at least – maybe a thoughtful summary of the day at the end. Task 1 today was to get a stratigraphic brush working, to display units in a building by occupation phase.


Task 2,  get the buildings of Catal to light up in a chloropleth way as a response to your queries for types of special finds (xfinds) and features (burials, fire installations, etc.), of course filtered by time/level of deposition and/or year of excavation.

Just another Day of DH 2014 site

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