I’m a Professor of History at The University of Western Ontario in Canada. I do computational history, big history, computational social science, STS, physical computing, desktop fabrication and electronics. My new open access, open content and open source textbook Digital Research Methods with Mathematica can now be downloaded from this site. My last monograph Spark from the Deep (2013) is available in inexpensive electronic and hardback editions. My first book, The Archive of Place (2007), is also available online. These and some of my other publications appear on my Writing page.
In addition to a number of ongoing research collaborations in digital history, I am currently working on three projects. One is a study of attempts to build a self-replicating device, from the machine tools of the Industrial Revolution to the RepRaps of today. As part of this research, I have built a series of 3D printers and other CNC tools. The second project is a study of mid-20th-century analog electronic computing. My colleagues and I are reverse engineering the vacuum-tube-based computers of the 1930s, 40s and 50s using the transistors and analog integrated circuits that became available a generation later. The third project is a study of what Edward Jones-Imhotep and I call ‘the universal scientific instrument’. Over the past two hundred years, most scientific instrumentation has come to take the form of a domain-specific front end which transduces signals into electronic form, and a universal back end which processes them. There is a more extensive summary of my work in my Research Statement (2014).
This year I am teaching Mathematica programming, research methods, digital history and interactive exhibit design in undergraduate and graduate courses. I continue to collaborate with colleagues and students applying methods like experimentation, text mining and machine learning to historical research. Students I am currently working with include Devon Elliott, Tristan Johnson, Carla Joubert and Mitchell Horkoff. Past students include Adam Crymble and Rebecca Woods. Ian Milligan and Daniel Rueck are former postdocs. I am happy to discuss research opportunities with potential students and collaborators any time. I write code every day. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter at @williamjturkel