Ah, DH isn’t so bad afterall…


Other ways in which the digital humanities work that are different than the usual “building” and “sharing” concepts that we have discussed in class. Not that there is anything wrong with mapping a book or posting on a blog/forum, however, I find it quite refreshing to read about things we have not discussed in class.

One of the first things that caught my attention from reading “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books” was the comparison of the frequencies of using “1-gram” and “n-gram” words over time. One of the findings was that the usage of the word slavery peaked during both the civil war and the civil rights movement. This finding was a good example of how cultural change guide the concepts we discuss and overall contribute to culturomic trends. Although this one finding was not surprising I thought there were other moments throughout the text that really demonstrated other things that could be done with digital humanities.

For instance, everything that that was discussed in the article from tracking fame to the evolution of grammar showed the range of DH. I don’t even know where to begin.  The exponential numbers used throughout all sections really showed that the study of culturomics could not be completed without the use of DH.

Overall, DH is good for many things. Not only can you “build”, “share”, and understand concepts in a new way, but you can also complete things that are impossible for humans to do alone: The corpus cannot be read by a human. If you tried to read only the entries from the year 2000 alone, at the reasonable pace of 200 words/minute, without interruptions for food or sleep, it would take eighty years”(1). Now as the semester is coming to a close I realize more of the cool and unique things that can be done with digital humanities.

One Comment on “Ah, DH isn’t so bad afterall…”

  1. Brian Croxall says:

    It’s interesting to hear that “build” and “share” have become such touchstones for our conception of DH when they weren’t introduced for the first month or so. We can of course see that the Culturomics team has done both of these things. But they are also engaged in the same sort of work that we’ve seen with Moretti. Did you think that their work was easier to understand than his?