Monthly Archives: October 2014

Distant reading and the blurry edges of genre.

This is a really fascinating discussion of the kinds of insight distant reading practices can bring to problematic literary boundaries such as the fuzzy concept of “genre.” I have been puzzling myself over how to model the idea of “literary influence.”

The Stone and the Shell

There are basically two different ways to build collections for distant reading. You can build up collections of specific genres, selecting volumes that you know belong to them. Or you can take an entire digital library as your base collection, and subdivide it by genre.

Most people do it the first way, and having just spent two years learning to do it the second way, I’d like to admit that they’re right. There’s a lot of overhead involved in mining a library. The problem becomes too big for your desktop; you have to schedule batch jobs; you have to learn to interpret MARC records. All this may be necessary eventually, but it’s not the ideal place to start.

But some of the problems I’ve encountered have been interesting. In particular, the problem of “dividing a library by genre” has made me realize that literary studies is constituted by exclusions that…

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Reimagining libraries as conveners of information and innovation – Knight Foundation

A fascinating project exploring the realms of possibility with digitized libraries, using the Internet Archive as a data set!

Each of these projects explores what is possible when libraries open their collections to data scientists, allowing them to apply data mining algorithms to catalog, mine, visualize and create new ways of interacting with these vast archives. The results of such “big data” analyses by this new generation of “data librarians” yields new tools and datasets that can subsequently be used by ordinary citizens and journalists to transform how they access and understand the world. 

via Reimagining libraries as conveners of information and innovation – Knight Foundation.

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Filed under Big Data, Digital Humanities, internet, Library science