The future of digital methods for complex datasets: an introduction

Guiliano, Jennifer and Ridge, Mia (2016). The future of digital methods for complex datasets: an introduction. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 10(1) pp. 1–7.



Seeking to challenge the focus on 'big data' by understanding it outside of the computational power required to process it, this volume explores the role of digital methods in the future of digital humanities research. The essays are united by the theme of complexity---but manifest that complexity across an unusual spectrum. The methods included rise out of fields of study including library and information science, informatics, literary studies, English, and computer science. Sources explored include traditional national archives, international web archives, medieval musical scores, digitised books, early modern network ontologies and educational data/learning analytics. These essays discuss the practical implications of web scraping, the implications of creating new scholarly objects, the importance of documentation and the intricacies of applying topic modelling and linked open data methods. Together, the volume suggests that the humanities comfort with multiplicities, contingency, and uncertainty in sources may lend itself to resisting the reductionism that makes technical projects easier to manage, flattening messy, human data into neat binaries. These essays remind us that their results must be contextualised through scholars' knowledge of the sources and the methods by which they came to be constructed not just as as 'big data' datasets.

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