DOH  So today tomorrow (never blog before coffee lesson #1 of #DigWriMo) I kick off #DigWriMo

a wild ride through the world of digital writing, wherein those daring enough to participate will wield keyboard and cursor to create 50,000 words in the thirty short days of November. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that number looked more than a little damn daunting. Currently my digital writings comes in two varieties, the now-nearly-stalled sabbatical #writinginpublic of my book project, and blogging my #digitalhistory experiments. The formers take a lot of time, which I sorely lack now that I’m back teaching full time, and the latter doesn’t generate a whole lot of words.  Yesterday I spent hours playing with various digital tools, yielding just 550 words! I did tweet a lot, and I know “tweets” count, but counting tweets is onerous and it feels like cheating, so I’ve decided to skip that unless I need to at the end of the month.

Late yesterday I ran across two really useful tweep, Lisa Rhody (@lmrhody) a graduate student at UMD who is asking some of the same sorts of questions I am in topic modeling. Lisa has made some of the “big” decision like how many topics to model on a relatively small number of “texts” and how to interpret. I also picked up, from Miriam Posner’s (@miriamkp) posts to her grad students, wordseerer, created by Aditi Muralidharan “(@silverasm) a grad student at Berkeley who is doing some brilliant work with natural language processing and text mining. Her stuff with slave narratives is FABULOUS. She pointed me at a blog post on gender in Shakespeare that reminded me that word trees are v. useful, so back to Many Eyes I go.

Couldn’t stop, so I scrubbed text (using great tool from Wheaton college) and re-ran word tree

While I love all of the above, none of it is getting me any closer to finishing my book, which has really stalled now that sabbatical is over.  So in addition to blogging about my progress (or lack thereof) in digital history, my #DiWriMo project will be to work on the book.  I need to finish drafting the concluding chapters, but I feel compelled to clean up the first chapter and use it to query publishers etc. I don’t know about other tweeps, but the first chapter is like writing the introduction to an essay, the most important, but the most difficult part. I feel like the chapter is out of control, so I’ve written yet another outline, and I’m determined to work within it. If I could finish that this month, I’d be ecstatic.

(424 words)

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