William J. Turkel has more than thirty years of experience as a programmer. He learned how to program on the first generation of personal computers and wrote accounting systems for a sawmill and pressure treating plant when he was a teenager. In the 1990s, he did medical database programming for clinical trials, while also working on computational and statistical approaches to linguistics. He has extensive experience with functional programming (including Scheme and Mathematica) and artificial intelligence techniques. He has been the director of digital infrastructure for the SSHRC-funded strategic knowledge cluster NiCHE: Network in Canadian History & Environment since 2004, and has also been exploring the use of text mining, machine learning, and other computational approaches with historical sources since that time.
At Western, he has been teaching graduate courses on digital history and interactive exhibit design since 2006. He has led or been a co-applicant on eight previous SSHRC-funded digital history projects involving: historical GIS on GPS-enabled handhelds and tablets; ambient and tangible devices for knowledge mobilization; do-it-yourself printing of three-dimensional objects (with RepRaps); application programming interfaces for the digital humanities; augmented reality gaming; and text mining in the Old Bailey online archives (this was for the Criminal Intent project in the first round of Digging Into Data funding). From 2005 to 2008, he blogged regularly at Digital History Hacks, and is the lead author of the Programming Historian, a popular open access introduction to programming for humanists.