William J. Turkel
- Associate Professor
PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2004
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 87433
Office: Lawson Hall 2267
Office Hours: by appointment
My research interests include computational history, Big History, STS, physical computing, desktop fabrication and electronics. My new monograph Spark from the Deep is now available in inexpensive electronic and hardback editions.
Major Research Projects
I am currently working on two 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 other 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.
This year I am teaching Max 6 programming to undergraduates in Western's new digital humanities option, and to graduate students in my interactive exhibit design studio. I am also teaching a 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 new edition of The Programming Historian and on applying methods like experimentation, text mining and machine learning to historical research. I write code every day. There is a lot more information about my work on my personal website.
- (with Devon Elliott) "Making and Playing with Models: Using Rapid Prototyping to Explore the History and Technology of Stage Magic," in Kevin Kee, ed. PastPlay: History, Technology and the Return to Playfulness, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.
- (with Ian Milligan) "The Challenge of 'High-Throughput' Computational Methods," in Barry Rodrigue, Leonid Grinin, and Andrey Korotayev, eds., From Big Bang to Global Civilization: A Big History Anthology, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.
- (with Spencer Roberts and Kevin Kee) "A Method for Navigating the Infinite Archive," in Toni Weller, ed., History in the Digital Age, London: Routledge, 2012.
Selected Journal Articles
- (with Devon Elliott and Rob MacDougall) "New Old Things: Fabrication, Physical Computing, and Experiment in Historical Practice," Canadian Journal of Communication 37, no.1 (April 2012):121-128.
- "Hacking History, from Analog to Digital and Back Again," Rethinking History 15, no. 2 (March 2011): 287-296.
- (with Daniel J. Cohen, Michael Frisch, Patrick Gallagher, Steven Mintz, Kirsten Sword, Amy Murrell Taylor and William G. Thomas, III) "Interchange: the Promise of Digital History," Journal of American History 95, no. 2 (September 2008): 442-51.
Selected Research Funding
- with Alan MacEachern (principal investigator), Laura Cameron, Stephane Castonguay, Colin Coates, Matthew Evenden, Liza Piper, and Graeme Wynn. "NiCHE: Network in Canadian History & Environment," SSHRC Strategic Knowledge Clusters Grant, 2007-14.
- with Jentery Sayers (principal investigator). "Humanities Physical Computing and Fabrication for Cultural Heritage," SSHRC Insight, 2013-17.
- with Ian Milligan (principal investigator). "An Infinite Archive? Developing HistoryCrawler to Explore the Internet Archive as a Historical Resource," SSHRC Insight Development, 2013-15.
- "Computational History," SSHRC Insight Development, 2011-13.
- "The Path to the Self-Replicating Machine," SSHRC Research Development Initiatives, 2009-11.
- with Dan Cohen, Tim Hitchcock, Geoffrey Rockwell (principal investigators), Joerg Sander, Bob Shoemaker, Stéfan Sinclair and Sean Takats. "Using Zotero and TAPoR on the Old Bailey Proceedings: Data Mining with Criminal Intent," NEH/JISC/SSHRC Digging into Data Challenge Grant, 2009-11.
Awards and Distinctions