Teaching and Doing Digital Humanities with Jupyter Notebooks

11:15 AM - 12:10 PM on July 16, 2016, Room CR6

Matt Lavin

Audience level:


This talk discusses our experiences using Jupyter Notebooks for digital humanities tutorials, workshops, and scholarship.


Jupyter Notebooks are meant to facilitate “open source, interactive data science and scientific computing across over 40 programming languages” (Project Jupyter). With roots in the iPython interpreter, however, it remains a technology primarily associated with the Python programming language. Using a web browser as its application driver, a Jupyter Notebook can present live, working code that multiple people can inspect, run, and even change. Notebooks can be rendered statically in Github repositories. Tools like mybinder.org are now making it possible to render fully interactive Jupyter Notebooks on the fly. Meanwhile, projects like Jupyter Hub are making it easier than ever before to host a collection of Jupyter Notebooks over the web with nuanced user controls, while simultaneously passing a threshold of acceptable web security. As a result of their more graphical and interactive features, Jupyter Notebooks make excellent educational tools, especially for people who are relatively new to code.

In our talk, we discuss our experiences using Jupyter Notebooks for digital humanities tutorials, workshops, and scholarship. Matthew Burton, Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Sciences & University Library System, has used Jupyter Notebooks for many digital humanities tutorials and workshops. Matt Lavin, Clinical Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Digital Media Lab at University of Pittsburgh, is by comparison a newcomer to Jupyter. In May 2016, however, he set up a Jupyter Notebooks webserver on the Jetstream Supercomputer for the Digital Humanities Summer Workshop at Carnegie Mellon University. The workshop focused on giving absolute beginners a taste of what it’s like to engage in computational digital humanities work. This talk will share some very interesting examples of what digital humanities code looks like and will cover Jupyter Notebooks from the perspectives of a longtime user and a beginner.