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I’m a Professor of History at The University of Western Ontario in Canada and a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada (2018-25). I do computational history, big history, STS, physical computing, desktop fabrication, electronics, sound and esoterica. The second revised edition of my open access, open content and open source textbook Digital Research Methods with Mathematica (2020) can be downloaded from this site. My previous 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 ongoing research collaborations in digital history, I also have a number of projects on the history of technoscience. 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.

This academic year (2020-21) all of my teaching has moved online in response to COVID-19. In the fall semester I am teaching a cross-listed undergraduate/graduate course on digital research methods using Mathematica. I am also teaching a undergraduate course called “Spy vs Spy” that is designed to teach collaborative close reading and the techniques of structured intelligence analysis. In the spring I am teaching an undergraduate course on global 21st-century history. I continue to collaborate with colleagues and students applying methods like experimentation, text mining and machine learning to historical research. I am currently working with Jeff Lupker. Past students I have worked with include Jennifer Bonnell, Adam Crymble, Devon Elliott, Jennifer HambletonTristan Johnson, Kimberley Martin, Shezan Muhammedi and Rebecca WoodsIan Milligan and Daniel Rueck are former postdocs. I am happy to discuss research opportunities with potential students and collaborators any time.

You can contact me at william.j.turkel@gmail.com

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