Tue, Feb 9, 2016

My Open History Notebook

I’ve long advocated open history as something we should pursue as historians. Along those ends, I’ve been inspired by Caleb McDaniel, Lincoln Mullen, and Shawn Graham and their use of open notebooks. Caleb, in particular, led me to try out Gitit, a git-backed wiki platform written in Haskell and tightly integrated with my favorite command line tool, pandoc. I loved using Gitit, but there were a few little things that bugged me about it. Continue reading →

Wed, Jan 6, 2016

Federal Policy, Western Lands, and Malheur

This post also appears at BlogWest. At the root of these controversies was not just “interest” in the conventional sense of an economic stake but values. The economic interest of producers undergirded their opposition. But at a deeper level of human response was the degree to which producers’ values were offended. They could not accept the notion that what environmentalists thought was useful and valuable was, in fact, so. Continue reading →

Mon, Sep 28, 2015

Visualizing the Wars of the United States

Yesterday I published a visualization of wars fought by the United States based off another timeline created by Elijah Meeks using his d3.layout.timeline. In Elijah’s timeline, he depicted the timeline of war around five categories that defined the type of conflict: European, Internal, Latin America, Native, and so on. Elijah’s visualization was compelling in demonstrating the near-continual perpetuation of warfare that the U.S. participated in. As Brandon Locke noted, Elijah’s timeline of peace was particularly compelling: only thirty-seven years of the nation’s history have been without war. Continue reading →

Sat, Jun 6, 2015

Podcasts Redux

A couple of years ago I wrote about some of my favorite podcasts, and I thought it would be good to update the list. Some of those podcasts have ended, others still keep on, and I’ve added new ones to my podcatcher of choice. I’m currently subscribed to thirty-two podcasts. I might have a problem.1 Back to Work, 5by5: Back to Work was on my last list, and it still remains. Continue reading →

Thu, May 7, 2015

United States Historical Cities Populations

Thanks to the hard work of Erik Steiner and Jan Lahmeyer, the Spatial History Project has compiled what I believe is the most complete dataset on U.S. population figures over two centuries. The dataset tries to compile historical city populations decennially between 1790 and 2010 for cities above 2,500 people (when the U.S. Census Bureau first added them to their records), but the data is spottier for cities with populations below 2,500. Continue reading →

Thu, Apr 9, 2015

AeroPress Recipes

Nice collection of AeroPress recipes from Tools & Toys. My own favorite is still 12g of fine ground coffee dumped into an inverted AeroPress, steeped in water poured up to the “3” mark for about a minute, then a quick flip and press. Continue reading →

Sun, Mar 22, 2015

The Budget Guide to NCPH

If you, like me, will be heading to Nashville in a few weeks for the National Council on Public History’s annual meeting, you might find Elizabeth Catte’s guide to Nashville’s food and culture on a budget useful for your pre-trip research. Continue reading →

Thu, Mar 19, 2015

How We Do DH

Interesting piece over at the Duke Library blog on defining digital humanities (hat tip to Mike Widner). The research model is going to be harder to quantify. We do have some measurable components: we provide some services, and we do (or will do) some grant-funded projects. We also produce output, including code, web services, papers, articles, and blog posts. But for the most part we focus on building pieces of ever-evolving, ever-growing, resources that are never ‘finished’—resources that are harder to quantify than finished books or articles, websites or databases are. Continue reading →

Thu, Mar 12, 2015

D3 in Action

I’ve been remiss in pointing out that my buddy Elijah Meeks’ D3 in Action has appeared in print. I’ve been getting chapters of the book through Manning’s early digital access for the last few months that he’s worked on the book and can say that it’s an excellent introduction to D3. If you’re looking to get started with the library and, more importantly, how you can use visualization in the humanities effectively, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. Continue reading →

History and other distractions since 2008. View all posts by date, or an index of posts by category.


Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.