Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-sjtt6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-20T05:43:38.014Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chapter 1 - Why Textual Data from the Past Is Dangerous

from Part I - Toward a Smarter Data Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2023

Jo Guldi
Affiliation:
Southern Methodist University, Texas
Get access

Summary

This chapter explores three dangers a researcher commonly encounters in the digital humanities, each posed by imperfect and incomplete data. First, the data of the past may be occluded – historians are trained to look for silences and gaps in historical accounts, and a digital scholar must develop literacy in these matters lest their analysis be riddled with inaccuracies and distortions. A second danger is dirty data, not in the sense of transmission errors, but rather, cultural biases and conceptual distortions in the source material itself that, when left unrecognized, can result in distorted narratives. A third danger in text mining is fantasy – the gross misapprehension that models of the past can function as a prediction machine. Critically reviewing projects framed by misunderstandings of history that resulted from data-driven inquiries, this chapter explores a crucial aspect of research in the humanities: the imperfection of archives, the skew of libraries, and the inherent bias of language, and how literacy in these matters means approaching even the best archives with caution.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Dangerous Art of Text Mining
A Methodology for Digital History
, pp. 25 - 56
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×