All posts by Konrad M. Lawson


Software and Services for Managing Group Tasks

The world of software and online services is a densely populated field of companies who want you to share your to-do list with them. We’ve reviewed some of them here, including Todoist, Gqueues, Wunderlist, Basecamp, and Got Milk?. New options are appearing all the time, but I’ve long been a fan of Omnifocus and have good friends who swear by Things, both of which grow out of the Mac/iOS ecosystem.

However, task management software and services for individuals are increasingly clashing with an …


Exploring Trading Consequences

In March, a fantastic new resource for studying the history of commodity trade was announced: Trading Consequences.

The project is the product of several years of collaboration between York University, Canada, the University of Edinburgh, UK, the University of St Andrews, UK and the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The resource provides multiple interfaces to a rich database of mentions of commodities and locations associated with commodities from the 18th century and up to the mid-20th cent…


‘Ready to Eat’ Academic Computing Infrastructure

I’m not sure how the kids do it these days, but back in my previous life making an extra buck doing academic tech support, the fast and easy way to get a lab full of computers set up for a group of students or staff was to “ghost” the computers with whatever operating system and software you wanted. This process of cloning ensured that you got exactly what you wanted and started fresh for each workshop.

Nowadays I find myself sometimes wishing for a similarly fast and easy tool in the world of …


Add Space and Time to Your Omeka Exhibits

Omeka put the creation of rich online collections of archival materials within reach of anyone who has some limited experience with installing and running software on hosted web server. We have been a big fan of it here at ProfHacker, and with, which we introduced back in its beta days, now you can have an Omeka site up and running with no server experience.

A number of fantastic plugins have emerged and are supported by a wonderful developer community. One of the exciting larger ways…


Why Not Spare a Little Bandwidth for the Archive Team?

Do you remember Seti@home? It was the first really widely loved example of a crowdsourced distributed computing project. You install a cool looking screensaver and in the background your computer crunches data on behalf of the noble cause of finding aliens in space. There are now many projects which take advantage of large networks of home computers to carry out tasks. The use of distributed computing for the “mining” in the virtual currency Bitcoin is another recent example from the news.

The …


A Year of Turkel Tutorials

Many of the students and scholars I know who have picked up technical skills in the world of the command line (see Lincoln’s introduction and a series of posts here at Profhacker) or who have attempted their hand at programming come to what they know through tinkering. Some new way they want to analyze their sources, improve the discovery of interesting patterns, organize their stuff, or automate their tasks supplies them the justification they need to carve out some time to learn by playing. T…


Thoughts on Open Access Panels

Strong supporters of Open Access come to their position by many roads. My views developed partly from my own background, going from a university with relatively limited access to books and resources in my area of research, then to one where it felt like my access had almost no limits, and finally to work at a university where access to books and resources in my area is still limited. They are also the product of my interactions with some amazing historians who do their work outside of universit…


Use Your Handheld GPS for Photo Geotagging

Camera and GPSGeotagged photos are increasingly the norm. Our smartphones, some new cameras, Eye-Fi cards (in wi-fi range), and other gadgets add the latitude and longitude to the “EXIF” metadata found in most photo files today. Having geotagged photos makes it easy to relocate some place you want to revisit, organize and view your photos by location, and when your photos falls into their hands, provides helpful information to any organization that might want to reconstruct your past movements. Fortunately, i…


Micropatronage through the Open Company Gittip

No no. Thank you!

The internet is full of people creating amazing things and getting very little monetary compensation in return. Though they will probably always trail behind in number, there are also many of us out there who would love to give a little back. A guest posting here by Courtney Danforth has introduced some of the many ways to give, and both Jason and George have talked about crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter that bring support for proposed new projects to a new scale.

If crowdfunding is larg…


Draft for Collaborative Writing

DraftIt seems like new online services for collaborative writing are emerging all the time. After a series of postings about the powerful collaborative capabilities of the GitHub platform, used for writing code by programmers around the world, I suggested that this opens up the possibility for radical new ways to engage in academic scholarship and explore ways of forking the academy. For this to even stand a chance though, we need writing platforms that work better for our needs than the steep learni…