“Big Data” Comes to the Humanities

Fast forward a generation, and you might hardly recognize the humanities. Big data is here, and it’s allowing tech savvy students to take a whole new approach to “reading” texts. Using Google’s digital library and other tools powered by high power computing, students can now quantitatively analyze large bodies of literature and draw new conclusions about the evolution of ideas, language, and culture. (More on this here.) Some worry that these “stat-happy quants” risk taking “the human out of the humanities.” Others (myself included) suspect that this approach could enliven the humanities, allowing scholars to focus on new methods and questions. How “big data” is transforming the humanities (and the sciences too) is the subject of six articles appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Let me highlight them for you:

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.