I’m an Associate Professor of History at The University of Western Ontario in Canada. I do computational history, big history, STS, physical computing, desktop fabrication and electronics. My new monograph Spark from the Deep (2013) is now 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 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. I might decide to write a different book before I finish any of these projects, however. There is a more extensive summary of my work in my Research Statement (2014).
This year I am again teaching Max programming to undergraduates in Western’s new digital humanities option, and to grad students in my interactive exhibit design course. I am also teaching a relatively new graduate course on digital research methods that makes use of command line tools in Linux virtual machines. I continue to collaborate with colleagues and students on the community edition of The Programming Historian and on applying methods like experimentation, text mining and machine learning to historical research. I write code every day. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter at @williamjturkel