Digital Scholarship in Humanities and Social Sciences Course – 63200 Graduate Seminar at Purdue University Taught by Sorin Adam Matei

NodeXL Graph of Twitter activity at #dgo2011
Twitter links at DGO12 conference Image by justgrimes via Flickr


The course is a guide to the emerging field of educational and scholarly theories and practices that use networked computational resources and platforms to promote learning and research. It will investigate how technologies and the practices associated with them might generate new scholarly questions, approaches, and dissemination opportunities in humanities and social sciences. The course will analyze a set of foundational theoretical texts that speak about the need to re-tool scholarship for the 21st century as well as about areas of critical concern. The course will also explore the newer generations of datasets, tools, and scholarly practices. It will examine technologies such as social media, automated text analysis, open source software, cloud computing, web services, mashups,  3D modeling, and virtual collaboration tools. Specific technologies, such as Discover Text, Wikipedia Analytics, Visible Past, Parlor Press, Visible Effort, Open Context, Scholar Press, CAVEs, xArchiv, NodeXL will be presented and discussed in class.


Tuesday – Thursday 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

BRNG 2132

Office Hours Tue – Thu 11:45 – 1 PM (and by prior email appointment on Wed 10-2PM)


Dr. Sorin Adam Matei

Associate Professor

Brian Lamb School of Communication

Purdue University

BRNG 2132 – smatei [at] purdue [dot] edu

Phone: (765) 494-3429


1. To initiate graduate students in a budding field of inquiry

2. To explore some practical applications of digital or online scholarship tools.

3. To provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to be productive, critical, and successful scholars in the 21st century

Core issues

  • What does it mean to be a scholar in the 21st century?
  • What new data collection, research tools, and publishing opportunities have been brought about by advances in communication, collaboration, and analytic tools and strategies?
  • How can ubiquitous, spatial-aware, mobile, and cloud computing services impact our daily scholarly lives?
  • What scholarly social practices and intellectual perspectives emerge in the era of social media?
  • What critical areas need to be addressed? What societal and intellectual problems emerge as areas of particular concern?
  • Will digital scholarship bridge or close intercultural, intellectual or social divides?


2 Blog reaction posts on one of the books/reading packets discussed in class. To be posted on – 20% grade.

Each blog post should be about 1500-3000 words long and should refer to the entire packet of readings for a week. It should discuss the main points of the readings, the way in which they could be organized under a broader theme/s and how they intersect with the main issue of the class, namely, digital scholarship. Conclude each post with some personal/critical thoughts. Discuss the validity of the points made of the readings, compare and contrast the positions expressed in them, suggest future areas of inquiry that can be derived from them, etc.  The first post should be published on the site no later than February 20st. Post a comment on this site with a link to your post.

Second post

Summarize the points/chapters you found most appealing in the volume Writing History in the Digital Age and explain how they promote the field of Digital Scholarship. In conclusions explain if you can see this volume leading to the the emergence of a unified vision for digital scholarship. If yes, present it in a few sentences. If not, propose a vision of your own.

Deadline March 29 (midnight)

Technology review and tutorial

Choose a digital scholarship technology (e.g., Discover Text, Visible Past, Thought Ark, etc.), explain what need it serves and if known what lead to its invention, review its strengths and weaknesses, situate in the field, and provide a brief tutorial using screen capture tools (eg, Cite sources using APA or ASA style. Post @ 2500 words long write up and embed screen capture movie on Thought Ark by April 7. 20% of the grade

Contribution to the Digital Scholarship in Humanities and Social Sciences final project:

Contribute information about the topics most viewed in at least 9 countries and code according to class decided procedures.  20% of the grade. Due May 2nd.

Term paper

Choose a theme or topic of personal interest to you and relevant for your future scholarly career. This topic may (and is in fact recommended) to continue the discussion you started in the blog posts. Discuss its significance for your field and its possible future research directions. Discuss its relationship with at least one of the theoretical concepts discussed in the earlier part of the the semester: big science, crowdsourcing, folksonomy, etc citing the specific sources and arguments encountered in the readings. In the process, you may discuss  issues such as:

  • How can digital scholarship impact your topic?
  • How can it impact digital scholarship?
  • What challenges does your topic create for digital scholarship professional and intellectual practices?
  • What inquiry strategies related to your topic are most probable to emerge in the future due to the turn to digital scholarship?
  • How could the results of the research topic under discussion be disseminated in the future using digital scholarship strategies?

Illustrate with a specific examples and root in theory. To be written using Thought Ark. Optimal length, 6000-8000 words, without references. At least 10 sources, of which no less than 5 should be found through independent research and one should be a paper written by one of your classmates. 40%

Deadline JUNE 6 MIDNIGHT (during finals week).

Note about using pictures on the class sites

If you upload a picture on any class site, make sure that the image is in the public domain or is available for use for non-commercial purposes. It is preferable that you use the FLICKR collection of CC (creative commons) pictures. If you cannot find anything on the FLICKR site, try the Creative Commons Search Engine for images.

Weekly Schedule of Classes

January 10-12 

Introduction and course technologies

>>Course Policies, scope, assignments, basic technologies

January 17-19

Knowing and Knowledge in a Digital Age

>>What is knowledge? How does digitization change knowledge in the 21st century?

>>Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger (see sample of intro here: Ovearll, please make sure you read chapters Prologue, 1, 7, 9 and 10)

An excellent talk given by Weinberger at Google


>>Listen to this Weinberger’s talk about the new, networked science about his new book  Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room

>>To know, but not understand – fragment from Too big to know

>>Cult of the Amateur – Andrew Keen

>>Networked knowledge – Vannevar Bush, the Memex

Other resources:

Weinberger’s blog – Joho the blog

Too big to know book site

Andrew Keen’s blog

January 24-26

>>How We Got to Know What we Know and How it Matters The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr especially Introduction and Conclusions and chapters Tools of the Mind, The Deepening Page, Medium of Most General Nature and Church of Google.


>> Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong especially Writing restructures consciousness, Print space and closure and Some theorems


Reading in a Digital Age

January 21-February 2

How Wise Could the Crowds Be

>> Infotopia : How Many Minds Produce Knowledge by Cass Sunstein (Purdue library Ebook)

>>Thought Ark and how to capture the idle cycles of research

Extra Resource
Infotopia book review

February 7-9

Wise Crowds and Content Analysis

>> From Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky to

>> Discover Text by Texifer – Tutorial and academic paper by Stu Shulman, the inventor of DiscoverText, about eRulemaking

Other Crowdsourcing Tools

Mechanical Turk –

Text Grid

Of interest:

February 14-16 Digital Enthusiasm Catches Up with Academia

>> Writing History in the Digital Age

February 21-23

This week we will analyze the Spatial Turn in Humanities and Social Sciences. In reading and watching the visualizations posted below think about the net contribution to our store of knowledge and how such contributions confirm or not the theories and hypotheses about the changing nature of knowledge and scholarship in the digital age proposed by Weinberger, Sunstein, or Shirky. More important, however, is to ask if mapping or visualizing creates its own sui-generis type of scholarship.

>> Spatial Humanities introduction

>>John Theibault, Visualization and historical arguments

>>MEJ Newman, Maps of the 2008 Presidential Elections; Atlas of the real world (see all 18 maps in the slideshow)

>>NYT InfoGraphic – How much is your vote worth?

>>History as a Mondrian painting – Try to read the text in the pictures

Posted: Visualizing US expansion through post offices. from Derek Watkins on Vimeo.

>>Also, take a look at the interactive version of the above project

>>Hans Rosling’s Visualization of the Triumph of the Industrial Revolution also watch his TED talk

>>The Republic of Letters – Use the Navigation Menu to read: Introduction, Method

>>The Republic of Letter Visualization Methods (update)

>>Grafton, A. A sketchmap of a lost continent. The Republic of Letters. 


>>Art, Activism, or Scholarship?

How would you classify the visualization of the timeline/map of the 3000 nuclear test explosions the world has seen since Trinity?



Digital History

February 28 – March 01

Visible Past and Open Context – How to Mashup Everything

Visit Visible Past and read:

Visible Past also encapsulates the vision of this publishing method

>> Loose Coupling – an example using Rough Cilicia

>> Linked Open Data – What it is and how it works & other Open Context Examples
Visible Past and Open Context Method for Loose Coupling – paper will be distributed in class

>> Visible Past, the original vision

March 6 – 8

Spatial Humanities in Depth

On March 6 we are meeting at the Envision Center (under Steward, down the sloping hallway right across from the Pizza Restaurant in the Union)

>>How to Create your own location aware tool and Spatial Immersive Technologies (Roman forum)

March 13-15 Spring Break

March 20-22 

The Networking of Everything

>>How NodeXL Can Help Us Explore Social Media on the Cheap – Plus Sentiment Analysis

>> Selected Chapters from NodeXL, the book – Kindle Version and the Purdue Library Catalog Version
>>>>Chapters 1 – 4 mandatory (you may be selective and terms of how deep you want to go into each chapter)
>>>>One other chapter of your own choice from the “how to” sections. Please post a comment on this page to announce the rest of the class which chapter you will read.

March 27-29

Computational Social Science manifesto in Science Magazine

Mining our reality

Social Scientists Wade into the Tweet stream

Distinguishing influence-based contagion from homophily-driven diffusion in dynamic networks

>>Text and corpus analysis tools and what can they help us do

April 3-5

Visible Effort Redefines Social Media Research in Terms of Entropy

April 10-12

Prepare a manuscript for publication as an ebook following the instructions in this ebook preparation document


Publishing in the Digital Age – The Print on Demand Revolution – Ubimark Books

Open scholarship – READINGS TBA

>> Virtual Sociability


April 17-19 Class analysis of various technologies presented by course members

April 24-26 Review and work on final report


Course resources and sites


Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

24 thoughts on “Digital Scholarship in Humanities and Social Sciences Course – 63200 Graduate Seminar at Purdue University Taught by Sorin Adam Matei

  • April 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I have uploaded my Technology Review and Tutorial; you can find them here.

    A couple of notes:

    1. The tutorial ended up being considerably longer than I expected, largely just because NodeXL is a very broad program to cover. I can try to condense these if necessary, though; it should be easy enough to do given how long there is left until the deadline.

    2. The embed feature does not seem to be working on ThoughtArk at the moment, regardless of which version of the YouTube code I attempt. In case a fix is not feasible in the near future, the code is still visible from the back end for your benefit, at least, Dr. Matei. Additionally, you can view the tutorial at your leisure on my YouTube channel.


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