Experiences of a Research Assistant

As a research assistant in the Spark Incubator Lab, my role has been to learn how to write in python with a raspberry pi and create a scraper that records the monthly changes made to the Devonshire Manuscript Wikibook. I have had experience with the study of Digital Humanities through taking English 355O last year and really enjoyed learning how to write in HTML, TEI, and CSS. Having the opportunity to build off this knowledge was extremely rewarding because of the ups and downs that occur in the process of creating a computer program. I gained a lot of valuable skills working in the Spark Incubator Lab and would feel confident to take on bigger and more advanced projects. I began my process by learning the python language through tutorials on YouTube and ‘The Programming Historian’. I then began to explore all of the different paths I could take to reach my goal of creating a scraper. As the project progressed we kept considering new ways to improve the program: by adding a website to display the data, and automating the scraper with a crontab file so that it can run on its own. As I ran into obstacles and overcame them I was surprised to find that many of the answers could be found on the internet. I was overwhelmed to discover how unique websites such as ‘stackoverflow’ are because of their lively and supportive online communities for people (like me) who run into programming problems! Having the opportunity to contribute to the INKE project in the (very supportive) Spark Incubator Lab with Connie and all of the research assistants has been an incredibly impactful experience and I know that I will continue to pursue my new interests in computer programming in the future.