Week 10: Impacts – Digital Scholarship

circa 1901: A London slum family with all their possessions in the street following eviction (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Lecture : How does scholarship in DH expand what we consider as evidence and how does we use evidence in new ways? What are the methodologies (quantitative and qualitative) and workflows which result? [slides]

Reading: Orford, Scott, Danny Dorling, Richard Mitchell, Mary Shaw & George Davey Smith. 2002. Life and death of the people of London: a historical GIS of Charles Booth’s inquiry. Health & Place 8(1). 25–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1353-8292(01)00033-8. [pdf]

Actvity 1: 

Many scholars have used the writing of Samuel Pepys as a data source.  Visit the online version of Pepys diary, look at the entries for ten days and make a list of the different places Pepys mentions. Compare your results with others in the class – how much geographic variety was there in Pepys’ life? (You might like to look at the Map of Early Modern London and try to find some of the locations. You also might like to compare the Pepys Diary site with MoEML in terms of ease of navigation.)

Activity 2:
One of the methods used by many scholars today is network analysis. Go to Immersion and log in using one of your email accounts – your information is safer at this site than it is at many other places, but you may want to use your own computer for this rather than a shared screen. Generate a visualisation of your networks and think about the following questions (be ready to discuss your answers with the class):
a) How many school friends appear in the network? Do they form a coherent sub-network?
b) Which sub-networks are only linked through you, and which ones are linked by multiple members? Can you think of why these differences occur?
c) Are any of your sub-networks tied to specific locations or activities? Again, can you think of reasons why this might be the case (or why it is not the case)?

General discussion:

  1. How much do you think the network reflects aspects of your life?
  2. Sociolinguists see linguistic practices as characterising networks. Can you think of ways in which you use language in different ways with your different sub-networks?
  3. More generally, can you think of different social activities or behaviours which are associated with different sub-networks?

Activity 3:
One of the key points Orford et al make is that health outcomes are related to comparative wealth of different parts of London. Is this true for COVID-19 also? Look at this map and compare the distribution of COVID-19 cases with Orford et al’s maps of comparative wealth. What do you see?


This activity is intended to serve a double purpose. One aspect of digital scholarship which will be discussed in the lecture this week is the idea of a workflow – an optimal sequencing of different processes which can be used each time we approach the same (or similar) tasks. Your task is to create post or a page which includes two images and some text. Make a note of the actions you perform as you carry out this task – not down to the last keystroke, but at the level of e.g. open page editor, go to media library, load image from phone. When you are done, compare your record with that of another class member:

  1. Did you both do tasks in the same order or were your orders different?
  2. Did you repeat sequences of tasks?
  3. Can you see ways to carry out the task more efficiently?
  4. Together, can you develop an optimal workflow?

Image credit: Handwriting by Samuel Pepys – Google Books, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5941566