Digital Humanities Approaches to Reference
Cultures; The Emergence of the United States in
Public Discourse in the Netherlands, 1890-1990
“…uses digital technologies to analyze the role
of reference cultures in debates about social
issues and collective identities, looking
specifically at the emergence of the United
States in public discourse in the Netherlands
from the end of the nineteenth century to the
end of the Cold War.
The United States as a reference culture
Text mining for historical research
National Library Den Haag:
~9.000.000 digitized pages from
Dutch news media 1618-1995
Opportunities for comparative and
transnational historical research
(esp. History of mentalities/ of ideas)
Development of a digital text
servers nodig voor opslag (500 gb aan
computers nodig voor computationele
duurzaamheid nodig bij opslag en
bestandsformaten (min. 5 jaar – maar
beheer nodig (mankracht)
The change of scale has led to a change
of state. The quantitative change has led
to a qualitative one. […]
[B]ig data refers to things one can do at a
large scale that cannot be done at a
smaller one, to extract new insights or
create new forms of value
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger en Kenneth Cukier, Big Data: A
Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
(Boston 2013) 13.!
Digital research on public debates
No limitation source material
No selection issues
No representativeness issues
Enabling research on hidden debates,
mentalities, implicit notions
Reproducibility of research, from various
Source criticism: data
Libraries, archives, museums and other collection
institutions have now been digitising corpora of material for
many years, but with a very few exceptions, it is still quite
rare for an entire run of primary sources to be digitised and
made available online.
This means that there are gaps within the digital record. Yet
it is unusual for online resources to actively demonstrate
these gaps; resources may be advertised as a growing
corpus, but when searching through or downloading a
digital resources there is rarely any indication of what has
not been digitised. This skews the sense of the nature of the
collection the scholar is working with and erodes trust.
Abstract submitted to DH2014 by Alastair Dunning (The European Library) and
Clemens Neudecker (KB National Library of the Netherlands).
Source criticism: Press history
[O]ne of the biggest challenges facing
press historians will be to ensure that the
historical agency and complex
materiality of newspapers are not
forgotten in a rush to mine their
Bob Nicholson, ‘The Digital Turn’, Media History 19 (2013) 59-73, on
Source criticism (interpretation)
Newspapers = public debate?
What newspapers write = what public
How to interprete results?
What are stopwords? (“staat”) !
Mining for meaning?