Elizabeth Willse

Elizabeth Willse
Birthday
May 25
Bio
Elizabeth Willse is a freelance writer, book reviewer and blogger. She works with the Star-Ledger, Examiner.com, and blogs such as Women's Voices For Change and PinkyShears.com

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APRIL 19, 2012 9:31PM

Visualizing data can be fascinating and goofy

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Here are some things that came up in class. Examples of data visualization, digital humanities, and very cool projects that are possible… with SCIENCE! 

It’s cool looking, whimsical science! And people are excited about it!

There is a lot of talking in library science circles about Linked Data. Which would mean that everything on the web would have a link to it, and would have a set name, and would be linked to everything else somehow. There is a lot of talking about how this would happen, what would happen if it did. Ideologies and opinions abound! Techies! Scholars! Philosophers! I am still too new to this to feel sure I should stake out what I think…

But Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Internet… he’s very excited. 

Tonight, I learned a new word! (A few new words, but the others were rather more arid examples of library jargon.)

cul·tu·ro·mics

  [kuhl-chuh-roh-miks]  

noun ( used with a singular verb )
the study of human culture and cultural trends over time bymeans of quantitative analysis of words and phrases in a very large corpus of digitized texts: Culturomics can pinpoint periods ofaccelerated language change. (via Dictionary.com)
 
As far as I can tell from the following, it means treating art and culture as data sets. And then doing nifty things to show them off.

Mapping the Republic of Letters. Basically, these are data points tracing Enlightenment thinkers, and who wrote to whom, mapped out by relationships and geography. The way it’s visualized reminds me of a Lite Brite which makes me feel less than scholarly.

And then there was a TED talk that was both informative and delightfully goofy: What We Learned from 5 Million Books.

which is about Google’s Ngram Viewer… which I have just tried to play with, and comprehend. But the things I am getting from it are not as much fun as what those two guys got from it.

A bit ago, LisaP gave me a link to the Corpus of Contemporary American English. It shows when and how words are used, tracking them over time. Spoken, written, fiction, news… Be prepared to spend hours!

Last Friday, I went to the Library of Congress, and it was lovely, and a lot of its wonderfulness is on the web. I have not had time to blog about all the notes I took while I gaped enthusiastically at wonderful archive things. Or to explore its digital archives.


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There's much to be gleaned from coherent numerical analysis, a lot to be learned from word usage, much more from history and cultural and language fluency...