Blog Archives

WordSeer: Exploring Language Use in Slave Narratives

More and more source text in the humanities gets digitized every day, making it accessible to large scale computational analysis. Nevertheless, traditional methods of humanistic analysis are based on detailed arguments built upon on close readings of individual texts. How

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Posted in Digital Collections, Digital Humanities, Information Seeking, Natural Language Processing, Visualization

Extracting Social Networks from 19th Century Novels

This year’s conference of the Association for Computational Linguistics, the most prestigious event in computational linguistics, had a paper that got me very excited. It’s called Extracting Social Networks from Literary Fiction [pdf], and here’s the abstract (emphasis added): We

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Posted in Digital Humanities, Natural Language Processing

Tools for Exploring Text: Natural Language Processing

Take an example question that a literary scholar might have,

“How is the character Mary talked about in this text from by author X”?

It’s fairly open ended – what does “talked about” mean? How do we translate this into computational terms? In this post, I’ll describe some tools that natural language processing (NLP) has to offer, and show how each can be used to tackle this question along with pointers to sofware and tutorials.

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Posted in Digital Humanities, Natural Language Processing, Text Mining

MetaOptimize: Q+A for the large data set community

Joseph Turian & co. at MetaOptimize have started a Q+A forum for “data geeks” – people in machine learning or data mining who deal with questions about visualizing, processing, or otherwise making sense of big data sets

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Posted in Community, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Text Mining, Visualization

Text mining 19th century novels with the Stanford Literature Lab

Yesterday, I attended a group meeting with the Literature Lab at Stanford University’s English Department, where they presented some very cool new results on mining 19th Century British and American novels. The lab, fresh on its feet, is headed by

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Posted in Digital Humanities, Natural Language Processing, Text Mining

Just because it’s obvious, doesn’t mean it’s useless

A phrase net with the pattern "X and Y" applied to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Automated tools that pick up on so-called obvious information are easy to dismiss. We say – oh, it can’t tell us anything more than we already know. What we forget is that sometimes we’re looking for exactly this sort of information: stuff that is obvious… but that we don’t know yet.

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Posted in Information Seeking, Text Mining, Visualization

A text miner’s revelation: how historians use text

thatcamp

Historians seem to use text in two ways, the first is to get an idea of what’s out there, the same way all researchers use the literature in their fields. The second is as evidence – what traces might have an event, personal characteristic, impression, or anything else, have left in textual records from around that time?

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Posted in Digital Collections, Digital Humanities, Information Seeking, Text Mining