(Hi all, just saw I saved this as a draft instead of publishing! Sorry it’s a little bit late!)
This week, I have been thinking in particular about text as a cultural object. In determining data to mine for this class, I’ve been looking at Google Books’ open data and what type of, as Owens describes, “evidentiary value” can be pulled from this raw data.
Moreover, the type of information that humanists are searching for and using this data to support acts as a secondary layer of value. While the data itself gives you an idea of its time and serves as an object of its time, what humanists use that data to support is itself a value of its own time.
A good example of this is Prochronisms—a project by Ben Schmidt, who created a software algorithm that compares scripts from historical dramas (primarily “Downton Abbey” and “Mad Men”) with Google Books data from that same time period. In it, he compares phrases and wording used in the scripts against popular written phrases of the period—showing what is accurate language and what is part of the current lexicon that made it into the script.
It’s a really cool project that shows the evolution of language, but also serves as an artifact of our own time (the way people watch/analyze TV shows and communicate online, as an example). Check it out here: http://www.prochronism.com