New adventures

The last few days have been bittersweet for me – after almost three years at the Scholars’ Lab, Friday of last week was my last official day on the job. Next week, I’m off to a new project and adventure – I’ll be joining an early-stage company here in Palo Alto called Casetext, which is building a free, crowdsourced platform to search and annotate US case law, which in the past have been locked up behind hefty subscription fees – even though the texts are all in the public domain, by definition! This is an extremely exciting project for me because it fits in really closely with a lot of projects related to document annotation, text analysis, and digitally-enhanced discourse that I’ve been hacking away at for the last few years. (Including, in a weird, coincidence, Public Poetics, a collaborative poetry annotation platform, which was one of the first big projects I built for the web, and one of the portfolio pieces that got me the gig here at the lab in the first place!)

The time I’ve spent at the Scholars’ Lab has been nothing short of magical. When I stumbled through the door back in 2011, I knew how to sit at a computer and fill up the screen with code, but that was about it. I knew how to program, in a narrow sense of the concept, but very little about the what or the why of humanities-inflected software engineering, much less how to whittle ideas into useful, original, intellectually coherent projects. Over the course of the next three years, I had the absurdly good fortune to work with the absolute best in the business – the Scholars’ Lab is like a little digital humanities Shangri-La, nestled in the lovely mountains of Virginia, and it’s a fiercely difficult thing to leave it behind. I’ve learned more than I could have possibly imagined*, and I’ll treasure the time I spent here for many, many years to come.

And so, to that end, I wanted to take this chance to thank everyone in the Scholars’ Lab orbit – Bethany, Wayne, Eric, Jeremy, Ronda, Becca, Chris, Kelly, and all the brilliant Praxis students and graduate fellows who have passed through over the course of the last three years. And also the broader network of technologists, students, and scholars at George Mason, UMD, Beloit, Chicago, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Wellesley, Indiana, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Northeastern, and many other places that I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with.

That said, I won’t totally vanish into the ether. I’ve got a backlog of mostly-finished Neatline experiments waiting to be polished up and pushed out the door, and I expect that I’ll keep tinkering around with those and hacking away at the Neatline core on nights-and-weekends as an open-source contributor from time to time. (And, when it makes sense, I’ll try to guest post the results in this space!) I’m also going to use my work at Casetext as an impetus to pick back up with work on Intra, a long-document, fuzzy-searching project that I sketched out way back in 2012, but never got a chance to really build out in a serious way. In the meantime, I’ll be answering email at davidwilliammcclure@gmail.com, tweeting at @clured, and posting rambling thoughts about programming and literature at dclure.org.

Thanks so much, folks!

* Not least a crash course in 80′s pop culture, an area in which I’m severely lacking, as my colleagues can attest!

Web Applications Developer on the Scholars' Lab R&D team, David graduated from Yale University with a degree in the Humanities in 2009, and prior to joining the SLab, worked as an independent web developer and communications consultant in San Francisco, New York, and Madison, Wisconsin. David is working on the Omeka + Neatline project and pursuing research projects that explore the idea that software can be used as a tool to inform, extend, and advance traditional lines of inquiry in literary theory and aesthetics.

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