#ComputerScience and #DigitalHumanities
Posted on December 8th, 2016
PRINCETON #ACM / #IEEE-CS CHAPTERS DECEMBER 2016 JOINT MEETING
12/08/2016 @Princeton University Computer Science Building, Small Auditorium, Room CS 105, Olden and William Streets, Princeton NJ
Brian Kernighan @Princeton University spoke about how computers can assist in understanding research topics in the humanities.
He started by presenting examples of web sites with interactive tools for exploring historical material
- Explore a northern and a southern town during the Civil War: http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/
- Expedia for a traveler across ancient Roman: http://orbis.stanford.edu/
- The court records in London from 1674-1913: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/
- Hemingway and other literary stars in Paris from the records of Sylvia Beach
Brian then talked about the challenges of converting the archival data: digitize, meta tag, store, query, present results, make available to the public
In preparation for teaching a class this fall on digital humanities, he talked about his experience extracting information from a genealogy based on the descendents of Nicholas Cady (https://archive.org/details/descendantsofnic01alle) in the U.S. from 1645 to 1910. He talked about the challenges of standard OCR transcription of page images to text: dropped characters and misplaced entries. There were then the challenges of understanding the abbreviations in the birth and death dates for individuals and the limitations of off-the-shelf software to highlight important relations in the data.
Brian highlighted some facts derived from the data:
- Mortality in the first five years of life was very high
- Names of children within a family were often recycled if an earlier child had died very young