Skills and expertise

interviewing skills – interpersonal communication, allow for silence/thought, contacting people, research, preparedness, question development, not leading discussion but having goals, technology, cameras, microphones, video editing, cutting


promotion, public relations for the project, outreach, attending community meeting,


photography – selecting subjects, taking good pictures, sifting through/selecting photos, editing/cropping photos, anticipating photo needs based on ongoing research


understanding limitations into taking on a large project, and understanding what project scope is reasonable and understanding how to delegate


rapid development and launch


victims – didn’t know what we signed up for, but were RESILIENT

collaborating using technology – Google Drive

photo research – finding relevant photos

sorting through a large amount of data and determining which documents are useful and which represent the best evidence of what we’re trying to argue

TRUST – not micromanaging, understanding that knowledge resides in networks, teaching one another skills

problem-solving on your own, taking initiative, researching solutions, finding answers on forums, finding and using snippets of code

group work – COLLABORATION, trusting people, organizing within groups

felt like a job rather than a class

real-world application

finding tech support through unconventional channels

project management – sustainability, working in project groups, delegating, budgeting time and resources, understanding and respecting other people’s time, scoping community needs, framing the project for an audience, defining the audience, understanding the audience, “client” communication, listening to what the clients wanted and yet giving them (in the end) what they needed, determined best software for project management/collaboration, determined best software for deployment to client, how to manage a group of people,

service learning – your skills provide access to information that community members can’t normally access (or don’t know how to access) – marshaling resources to benefit an under-resourced community

research – permissions, citations


writing, editing – collaborative editing, line editing, developmental editing

understanding there are multiple digital platforms and choosing among them to find information and/or build your project

launching projects with a very small budget

entrepreneurial approach – building something useful from nothing, for a specific audience

tapping into existing networks of knowledge and practitioners to conserve resources

research and advocate for the utility of a particular platform

In the fall of 2014, I was part of a sixteen-member team that, in the course of three months, launched the Central Rim Neighborhood Association Historic Survey. As part of that project, we worked with community members to [determine their needs], blah, and blah. I took special responsibility for a, b, and c. In fact, I played a pivotal role in the development of short-form documentary interviews. Overall, the 150 hours I dedicated to the project allowed me to further develop my communication, collaboration, and project management skills.


Executive summary

– Excellent communicator with special expertise in writing and collaborative editing

– Tech-savvy manager of diverse teams

– Expert researcher in online, library, and archival environments

Digital Humanist Interview of Dr. Ian Milligan

Brittany Reichel

Digital Humanist Interview

Interviewee: Dr. Ian Milligan

On September 4th at 12:00pm Central Mountain Time

When I first started looking for a digital humanist to interview I thought twitter would be the best way to find one. I instead ended up posting a sub-reddit under ‘Digital Humanism’ calling out for any digital humanists in need of interviewing. There I found a flurry of people I could delve into. I chose Ian Milligan because of this website I found through reddit. The website, hosted on word press, is It is co-authored by Ian, Scott, and Shawn. What caught my attention immediately was the content of the website. It is called ‘The Historian’s Macroscope: Big Digital History’ and they “peel back the layers of a particular approach to big data using topic modeling and network analysis”. This is a fancy way of getting my attention because this topic is of particular interest to me as a history major that has quite literally grown up in the new digital medium that they discuss in more detail.

After a few technical difficulties i.e. my microphone not working for the interview, and neither Ian nor I realizing until the last minute that we are in different time zones, we got the ball rolling. Ian is an assistant professor of Digital, Canadian, and Youth History at Waterloo University in Canada. He did his PhD work at York University; where he first started finding his interests lie in digital methods and learned web archives. He told me about finishing his PhD early and that he decided to stick around at York for a while. After his PhD he decided, from a lack of not much to do after a doctorate, that he would teach himself to program. He ended up doing a postdoctoral for about three months long at Western University. Here he looked at sources, music lyrics, old websites and archived all this information.

More than anything he thought that his mathematical and language textual training helped him with his current position. He sighed heavily when telling me about all the coding he has had to do. Ian’s passion is focused towards his current work. I asked him what a typical day looked like for him and he responded ‘now or in the summer?’ with enthusiastic gusto. He told me all about his back and forth schedule. Right now he teaches two courses during school semesters. One is a senior seminar on Canadian Social Movements and the other is a Research History Methods course. In between his class work he tries to work on the book he is currently writing on the website mentioned above and earlier. During the summer he is doing full time research and writing for his book. He starts off reading lots of blogs and moves into web archives. In this book project he is working on with Shawn and Scott, he explained, “at this time historians don’t know how to analyze web archives. With 500,000 images from the web, how can we use computer science methods to learn about history? What do web archives mean for historians?”

After discussing his book I really wanted to ask him if he had any advice for someone interested in digital humanities. He told me that a basic understanding of everything from computers and algorithms, to a basic Google search is important. He also said it is important to know why some search engines are at the top of the list vs. the bottom. Along with that the basic skills of being able to write well, take criticism, give criticism, and maintain that spirit of inquiry among yourself is important as someone seeking this profession. As you might delve into those skills, it is also important to decide early on which side of the digital humanities you are passionate about. We talked about the academic side vs. the programming side. He says the reality of the market to many people who get PhD’s in this field know that programming is in high demand. But he also said it is like every other job. He recommended that if you have sincere interests in this field you want to find a mentor and a good grad program that you can follow. “Don’t work to hard but treat it like a job. Work every day, have a good research question that you think you need digital methods to answer.”

All in all I had a great time getting to know Ian. I think the book he and his fellow academics are writing is going to be very useful to us historians of the future. They are right when they say that historians don’t really have a way of analyzing web archives right now. There is an increasing amount of digital sources being produced every day and hardly any way or know how of cataloging them. Eventually an academic standard is going to need to be set in stone just like any other format of the professions like APA, MLA, etc. More than that, I think their book project will challenge our lens of inquiry. It’s telling us to look at the humanities through a larger lens and multiple lenses at the same time.

Digital humanities skills — as found in job ads

strong computer skills

website development

web-based publishing

data mining


digital collections

social media marketing

app development


programming skills

digital scholarship

digital cataloging

social network analysis

digital preservation

good communication through web

metrics and analytics

content specialization

current system architectures

research skills


database design and development

marketing and publicity

contemporary art knowledge

topic modeling

data visualization


online and in-person interaction and community-building