Archive | May 2018

Sabbatical II: The Year of the Digital

Sabbatical. What academics look forward to for years – the ability to take time off from teaching and service to recharge and focus on me-time. On my last sabbatical seven years ago, I attended a few conferences, wrote a few papers, scanned in a ton of book chapters/journal articles, and even started a blog.

And now it’s back. This time around, it means further expanding my digital history toolkit, and reading and writing.

So once I get those final grades in (due Wednesday), I’ll be free! Free to travel to Spain for two weeks, where we’ll take in the sights of Madrid and Barcelona, which might even include a visit to the Sant Ferran citadel (c. 1750s), just outside of Figueres in Catalonia. In case we want to see what a real hornwork (or two) looks like. We’ve already seen the French side of the contested Pyrenean border (Perpignan and the little yellow train up to Mont-Louis), so now we’ll get to see it from the Spanish side.

Screenshot 2018-05-13 12.24.43

Sant Ferran castell from the Google Maps satellite web tile service in QGIS

After that, I’ll be free to finish the long-awaited big book of Marlborough’s battles. And to refresh my rudimentary Python skills, learn R, and expand my knowledge of GIS. The latter tasks will allow me to embark on my next journey, a GIS-informed analysis of military operations during the War of the Spanish Succession and beyond. In the process, I’ll be developing my early modern European military history database, and try to get you faithful skulkers to crowdsource some basic data on these EME wars.

Hopefully that’s not too ambitious for a year-long sabbatical, but I’ve earned it.

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Making progress – in QGIS, that is

Where I’m at now, after reading more on GIS, historical and Quantum. Here we have the beginnings of my Low Countries theater map, for operational military history.

Screenshot 2018-05-03 16.04.48.png

Features include rivers, the (modern) coastline, capital cities, fortifications (fortresses and forts) by side of garrison, a light tracing of the pré carré fortresses in northern France, and, for kicks, the woods of northern Belgium traced from the Austrian Ferraris maps, c. 1770s.

And more to trace, e.g. from the Pelet 1837 atlas:Screenshot 2018-05-03 16.08.05.png

Still lots of work to do, cleaning things up and adding additional features, like army marches and camps. Eventually, I’ll even work up to Print Composer and stop taking screenshots.

But in the meantime, progress moves forward.