Data Mining in the Humanities


Discussion Questions

We will use Hypothesis ( in this class to post discussion comments and questions in response to the weekly topic and assigned readings. Ordinarily, using Hypothesis would require creating an account and installing a browser plugin, but we’re going to try the Canvas integration, which removes this step for us.

We’ll follow a collaborative model with the aim of jump-starting the conversation and learning what’s on everybody’s minds before class starts. Each week, you should post at least two types of annotation:

As the opener, you can relate the readings to other coursework or personal experiences; you can write about something you didn’t understand, or that you found surprising; or identify similarities with other historical or theoretical contexts. As the responder, you can attempt to answer, build on, or disagree with your classmate’s post. Or, you can find a related online resource and post a link with a brief explanation of what makes it relevant, unusual, worthwhile, or problematic.

Please make two (2) annotations related to the assigned readings or topic each week. You may want to take as a guide David Silver’s remarks on thin and thick tweets. Thick posts are what you should aim for, as they are more information dense and therefore more likely to push the conversation forward.

There is a student guide to using Hypothesis that provides additional information on using this tool. And since we can, here’s an additional guide on “Adding Links, Images, and Videos” that may be helpful.

Annotation Exercise

For now, to acquaint ourselves with how Hypothesis works, let’s use it to annotate the first blog post assignment in this course.

Log into, select “Courses” in the left navigation menu, and navigate to our course site (2022SP - THE BYRNE SEMINARS 01:090:101:18). Click on “Modules.” Under “Annotation,” click the hyperlink for “Annotating the first blog post assignment.” You will need to authorize the Hypothesis app. Our annotations in this course are private to the course, although it is possible to use Hypothesis publicly (provided you’ve done the account creation and browser app installation process).

While getting acquainted with Hypothesis, let’s consider annotating to address the following questions:

  1. Clarifying questions: Is the assignment clear? Is there a mistake? Did the professor make a copyediting error?
  2. Opinions and reactions: What is your reaction to the assignment? Does it seem interesting? Boring? Have you done something like it before, or is the task of writing about data new to you? Can you make suggestions to make it more complete or relevant to your interests in data, the humanities, or digital technologies?
  3. Peer-to-peer advice: Can you contribute to, or extend the questions of your fellow students? Perhaps by referencing external sources?