From keyword searching to concept mining

keyword10Historical newspapers have traditionally been popular sources to study public mentalities and collective cultures within historical scholarship. At the same time, they have been known as notoriously time-consuming and complex to analyze. The recent digitization of newspapers and the use of computers to gain access to the growing mass of digital corpora of historical news media are altering the historian’s heuristic process in fundamental ways.

The large digitization project the Dutch National Library currently runs can illustrate this. Until now, the KB has made publicly available over 80 million historical newspaper articles from the last four centuries. Researchers (as well as the wider public) are able to do full-text searches in the entire repository of articles through the KB’s own online search interface Delpher . Instead of manually skimming through a selected numbers of editions or volumes this functionality allows for the searching of particular (strings of) keywords within the entire corpus. As basic as it may seem, full-text searching completely overturns the way in which historians are used to approach newspapers. Instead of the successive top-down selections historians traditionally made in order to gradually isolate potentially interesting material, keyword searching treats the corpus as a singular bag of words and, therefore, enables researchers to immediately dive into the texts that meet their search criteria. Lees verder

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KB-onderzoek: De taal van het Taylorisme

Van februari tot en met juli 2015 ben ik Onderzoeker te Gast bij de onderzoeksafdeling van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek in Den Haag. Ik ben van plan mijn tijd hier te gebruiken om te werken aan een veelvoorkomend probleem bij digitaal historisch onderzoek: de vertaalslag van een geschiedwetenschappelijk probleem naar de woorden die zoekprogramma’s en andere tools begrijpen. Dat doe ik aan de hand van een casus uit mijn eigen onderzoek, ‘de taal van het Taylorisme’. Lees verder