Digital Research – why we are here, what we have, what we can do for you

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  • Digital Research at

    the British Library Why we are here, what we

    have, what we can do for you

    Dr James Baker

    Curator, Digital Research


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    Literary scholars and historians have in the past been limited in their analyses of print culture by the constraints of physical archives and human

    capacity. A lone scholar cannot read, much less make sense

    of, millions of newspaper pages. With the aid of computational linguistics tools and digitized corpora, however, we are working toward a

    large-scale, systemic understanding of how texts were valued and

    transmitted during this period

    David A. Smith, Ryan Cordell, and Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Infectious Texts: Modeling Text Reuse in Nineteenth-Century Newspapers (2013)

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    Reading the Riots (LSE, Guardian)

    How misinformation spread on Twitter during a time of crisis

    2.6 million tweets analysed

    Volunteers used to help categorise data

    Images compared

    Sentiment analysis deployed

    Interdisciplinary, collaborative effort

    Proctor (Warwick), Vis (Sheffield), Voss (St Andrews).

    Reading the riots on Twitter : methodological innovation for the

    analysis of big data (2013)


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    discipline camp and

    camps sentence

    Ngram Viewer


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    Early users of medieval books of hours and prayer books left signs

    of their reading in the form of

    fingerprints in the margins. The

    darkness of their

    fingerprints correlates to

    the intensity of their use

    and handling. A densitometer -- a machine that measures the

    darkness of a reflecting surface --

    can reveal which texts a reader

    favored. Kathryn M. Rudy, Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts

    Using a Densitometer, Journal of Historians of Nederlandish Art (2010)

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    Michael Takeo Magruder

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    Kari Kraus

    Kari Kraus (Maryland), Signal & Noise: ENF as part of the sound archivist's

    toolkit, Digital Humanities 2014

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    Virtual St Pauls Cross Project

    Notes from talk at Institute of

    Historical Research, 18 February


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    The emergence of the new digital humanities isnt an isolated academic

    phenomenon. The institutional and

    disciplinary changes are part of a

    larger cultural shift, inside and outside the academy, a rapid cycle of emergence

    and convergence in technology and


    Steven E Jones, Emergence of the Digital

    Humanities (2014)

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    A Web of Rights, British Library, 19 February 2015

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    Thank you! @j_w_baker


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    Prototype Digital Research project task

    Get into groups

    6 groups arranged by birthday

    Jan/Feb = Group 1; Mar/April = Group 2; et cetera.

    Find the flip chart that represents your group number

    Use the cards to come up with a potential project idea that is:

    A combination of tool cards and collection cards (you all have different ones!)

    Draws on what has been talked about this morning

    Uses the best of the skills and backgrounds your group can offer

    Thinks big rather

    Feedback after lunch

    No more than 2 minutes including challenges you may face

    I will be timing!