Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55b6f6c457-pc5cw Total loading time: 0.147 Render date: 2021-09-23T13:25:18.710Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Article contents

Why Distant Reading Isn't

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Extract

Language is easy to capture, but hard to read.

—John Cayley, “Terms of Reference and Vectoralist Transgressions,”

Amodern 2: Network Archaeology

If Reading were used exclusively to designate human engagement with symbolic codes, then it would be relatively easy to dismiss distant reading as an oxymoron—unless it were referring to mystical scrying from dizzying heights or deciphering printed matter from across a room. Debates about what constitutes human reading are as varied as the many hermeneutic traditions and pedagogical or cognitive approaches on which they draw (Bruns). But reading has been used to describe many mechanical processes and sorting techniques. Punch-card rods, slotted light triggers, Jacquard looms, and many other devices were reading encoded information long before the standard MARC (machine-readable cataloguing) records became ubiquitous in library systems in the 1970s. Outmoded mechanical reading devices have a seductive, steampunk fascination. Many mimicked human actions and behaviors. In addition, these older technologies were embedded in human social systems and exchanges whose processes the machines' operators could partly read. The machines' actions were encoded and decoded by individuals' cognitive intelligence even if the machines functioned automatically.

Type
Theories and Methodologies
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 The Modern Language Association of America

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.)

References

Acerbi, Alberto, et al. “The Expression of Emotions in Twentieth-Century Books.” PLOS One, 20 Mar. 2013, dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0059030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bertin, Jacques. The Semiology of Graphics. Translated by Berg, William, U of Wisconsin P, 1983.Google Scholar
Bruns, Gerald. Hermeneutics: Ancient to Modern. Yale UP, 1992.Google Scholar
Day, Ronald E. The Modern Invention of Information. Southern Illinois UP, 2008.Google Scholar
Grimes, Seth. “Brief History of Text Analysis.” BeyeNetwork, 30 Oct. 2007, www.b-eye-network.com/view/6311.Google Scholar
Hess, Whitney. “Historical Technology: Machines of Times Gone By.” Pleasure and Pain, 11 Apr. 2011, whitneyhess.com/blog/2011/04/11/historical-technology-machines-of-times-gone-by/.Google Scholar
Liu, Bing. Sentiment Analysis: Mining Opinions, Sentiment, and Emotions. Cambridge UP, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Luhn, H. P.A Business Intelligence.” IBM Journal of Research and Development, vol. 2, no. 4, Oct. 1958, pp. 314–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mandell, Laura. “Visualizing Gender Complexity.” 9 June 2016, Universität Hamburg. Available at lecture2go.uni-hamburg.de/l2go/-/get/v/19498.Google Scholar
Pennebaker, James. The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say about Us. Bloomsbury Press, 2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Petrov, Slav. “Announcing SyntaxNet: The World's Most Accurate Parser Goes Open Source.” Google Research Blog, 12 May 2016, research.googleblog.com/2016/05/announcing-syntaxnet-worlds-most.html.Google Scholar
Pope, Kevin L., et al. “Methods for Assessing Fish Populations.” Inland Fisheries Management in North America, edited by M. C. Quist and W. A. Hubert, 3rd ed., American Fisheries Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Digital Commons at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1072&context=ncfwrustaff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Renear, Allen H., and Palmer, Carole L.Strategic Reading, Ontologies, and the Future of Scientific Publishing.” Science, vol. 325, no. 5942, 14 Aug. 2009, pp. 828–32.Google Scholar
Rybicki, Jan. “Vive la Différence: Tracing the (Authorial) Gender Signal by Multivariate Analysis of Word Frequencies.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, vol. 31, no. 4, 8 July 2015, dsh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/07/07/llc.fqv023.Google Scholar
Schmid, Calvin. Statistical Graphics: Design Principles and Practices. John Wiley and Sons, 1983.Google Scholar
Shirriff, Ken. “Inside Card Sorters: 1920s Data Processing with Punched Cards and Relays.” Ken Shirriff's Blog, www.righto.com/2016/05/inside-card-sorters-1920s-data.html. Accessed 27 Nov. 2016.Google Scholar
Stubbs, Michael. Text and Corpus Analysis: Computer Assisted Studies of Language and Culture. Wiley-Blackwell, 1996.Google Scholar
Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press, 1983.Google Scholar
Turney, Peter, and Pantel, Patrick. “From Frequency to Meaning: Vector Space Models of Semantics.” Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, vol. 37, Feb. 2010, pp. 141–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Underwood, Ted. “The Real Problem with Distant Reading.” The Stone and the Shell, 29 May 2016, tedunderwood.com/2016/05/29/the-real-problem-with-distant-reading/.Google Scholar
Ware, Colin. Information Visualization: Perception for Design. Morgan Kaufman, 2012.Google Scholar
Wright, Alex. Cataloguing the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age. Oxford UP, 2014.Google Scholar
Yau, Nathan. Visualize This. Oxford UP, 2011.Google Scholar
10
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@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 sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent 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.

Why Distant Reading Isn't
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and 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 <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Why Distant Reading Isn't
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and 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 <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Why Distant Reading Isn't
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *