Today we learned about distant reading. Well, we’d learned about it before – but today we learned a lot more. I’ve been thinking about how I use this potentially powerful tool. In the project I proposed – to follow the movements of Delta sharecroppers – I’m not sure how to employ this technique. That’s not to say that tomorrow won’t bring some new insight.
But I can see this as useful in some of my other research. One of the projects mentioned last week was about using deep reading/data mining to examine when “World War I” replaced “the Great War” in newspaper writing. I write about milk, and I am interested in the ways people have defined and regulated dairy products. It might be useful to look at things like “certified milk” and “pasteurized milk” and, for that matter, “grade A milk” to see when those phrases entered our lexicon. Just a thought. This all really hasn’t had time to settle in yet, and I’m a person who needs to cogitate.
Update – decided I was here to work with this stuff, so I did. Here’s one thing I found:
I knew about the growth of both certified and pasteurized milk circa 1900. I didn’t realize that (writing about) certified milk dropped off that sharply that much sooner. Hmm…
Source: Distant Reading