I often lead and co-lead hands-on, tech-focused workshops, mainly for librarians. For these workshops, I provide pre-written code and small corpora when needed. I carefully set up a shared computer lab or virtual environment so participants can get hands-on practice immediately.
Interested in hosting me at your organization? Please get in touch.
Build Your Own Twitter Bot (Intro to Python)
Bots work behind the scenes of the web. They can tell us the weather forecast when we ask (Siri), they systematically fix broken links on Wikipedia, they summarize financial data (Forbes), and on Twitter, they can add a touch of whimsy to your timeline (among other outcomes). In this workshop, participants are introduced to the Python programming language with a “bot starter kit” provided by workshop leaders. Participants customize their bots and send generated tweets out into the world. Along the way, participants become familiar with Python through the tried-and-true “change stuff and see what happens” pedagogical method.
Mark Eaton and I co-lead this workshop. We gave this workshop at Code4Lib 2018 (Washington, DC) and at the LITA pre-conference at ALA Annual 2018 (New Orleans). We first led this workshop in 2015 for the LACUNY Emerging Technologies Committee in New York.
See examples of bots created at the Code4Lib 2018 workshop, as retweeted by @bots4lib.
“I really enjoyed this. … I feel more confident about continuing on with learning Python than times I’ve previously taken a crack at it.”
—Feedback from one Code4Lib participant
Workshop materials are posted on GitHub (updated for Code4Lib). This workshop is also the basis of our “Blueprints” article in the Journal of Interactive Pedagogy.
HTML + CSS for Library Web Services
This workshop covers the very basics of HTML and CSS in the context of common library web services. Participants get hands-on practice editing code to add custom styling to a blog post and LibGuide box. We discuss customizing the LibGuides and SerialsSolutions interfaces to match library websites. Participants are provided with easily editable bundles of code and step-by-step instructions.
- “Exceeded my expectations!!!”
- “Robin Davis is very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and helped student individually who had problems.”
- What part of this training are you most likely to use at your job? “Customizing LibGuides with CSS.” “All of it.” “Probably everything!”
—Feedback from Southeastern NY LRC workshop participants
I also co-led this workshop with Alevtina Verbovetskaya on October 29, 2013, for the LACUNY Emerging Technologies Committee (then co-chaired) at CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY. 2013 workshop materials are posted online.
Twine for Librarians
In this workshop, participants learn how to make easy click-through tutorials using Twine, a popular, open-source lightweight app originally designed for interactive fiction. At my institution, we have adapted Twine to create online tutorials for the library. (Example.) Twine stories are straightforward to create, edit, and put online. The app allows for nonlinear storylines, meaning readers could have several choices in how to move ahead in a step-by-step guide.
For the first third of this workshop, I walk through a variety of Twine uses, highlighting other academic Twine stories in addition to my own. In the remaining time, participants try their hand at creating a non-linear tutorial or story using Twine’s web app. I provide “cheat sheets” for Harlowe, the simple markup format used in Twine. The Twine app outputs an HTML file bundled with everything it needs to work, so participants can take home their handiwork without needing to install anything before or after the workshop.
I led this workshop for the LACUNY Emerging Tech group in March 2018. Previously, I gave this workshop at the CUNY Games Conference in 2018 and at the Pratt Institute in 2017.
Introduction to Text Analysis
This introductory workshop focused on text analysis, a fundamental skill in digital humanities work. In this workshop, participants learned how treating a novel (or any document) as a “bag of words” can yield interesting results. We toured several text analysis projects that use the bag of words approach. Participants explored Voyant Tools and Google Books n-grams, then experimented with sentiment analysis using ready-made Python code and a “goodie bag” of textual data, including every State of the Union address. No experience with code was needed at this workshop.