Tomorrow I’m leading a digital humanities workshop at Rutgers.
Wednesday, November 20, 1:10-3:10 p.m.
Alexander Library, Room 413
169 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ
This workshop aims to expand our horizons for thinking about how we handle text on our computers. In order to attain liberation from Word, we will explore the difference between text editors and word processors, discuss the ways computers represent text as content or form, and experiment with some key technologies for digital document preparation. We will dally with three related computer languages in rapid succession. We will begin with markdown, a minimal but versatile set of plain-text conventions. Then we will learn to convert markdown into equivalent HTML markup using Pandoc. Finally, we will introduce the LaTeX document-processing system, which elegantly typesets plain text into PDF files. No prior experience with any form of markup or other computer coding is required. E-mail Vishal Kamath to register (vkamath at scarletmail dot rutgers dot edu).
Naturally I will be riding my markdown and TeX hobby horses. But the actual “empowerment” (modest but real) comes in getting a more detailed understanding of the way the systems we already use handle text, and in learning more ways to manipulate that text, beyond the confines of any single program. The business of plain-text-slinging, a minor craft on its own, nonetheless forms a natural starting point for thinking more deeply about analyzing digitized texts, expressing yourself in “code” of various kinds, and composing in the digital medium.