Presentation at DH Benelux 2015 by Jesper Verhoef and Melvin Wevers. In this presentation, we introduced the model of the Digital Humanities Cycle as a way to use computational tools iteratively and critically within historical research.
This paper is written from the perspective of the historian. Therefore, we have narrowed our focus on Digital History, instead of the umbrella term Digital Humanities. The historian nowadays has access to a large digital toolkit, that includes tools that enable full-text search, N-gram viewers, and analytical tools, in our particular case, these are based on corpus linguistics. Historians can use these to query and create (sub-)corpora of sources, generate themes and topics of interest, and analyze the material, and visualize their results. However, access to these tools are generates a number of questions? How can elements of the historical practice be brought into the field of computation? What new methodologies does computation offer to the historian? But also, how can the historian effectively combine traditional and digital methods? In this paper we will show how we have applied an iterative question-driven approach to the use of computational methods in cultural-historical research. Iterative in the sense that we go back and forth between the use of traditional and digital methods.
Let us know turn to this idea of the Digital History Cycle. In a way, this is an updated version of the empirical cycle. This model will help to explain how we have used computational tools for historical research following an iterative process of heuristics, hermeneutics, tool criticism, corpus faceting, and source criticism. The five element of the cycle can summarized as: searching, analyzing, understanding how a tool works, pre-processing of data, and the critical evaluation of historical sources. This cycle is a response to both the ideas that computation would make historical research more objective and faster, and that computation would replace traditional modes of inquiry. We advocate a hybrid approach of classic and digital historical researcher. When applied in combination, these approaches might yield patterns in the dataset, without missing “the power of the particular.”
As part of our approach, we stress that there is no ‘single tool fits all solution’ and that the use of computation is not a straight-forward process. Instead, we advocate an iterative cyclic process of going back-and-forth in which multiple tools are put to use in order to answer a historical question. In other words, we stress that the output of one single tool is never the end-point of research - they are all interrelated. Like a carpenter building a table, we argue in this presentation, a historian needs multiple tools to construct a historical narrative. Moreover, a tool never just only searches, but in searching one is also making analytical decisions and has to take into account the historical source and the workings of the tool. Jesper will talk about this in a bit more detail in a minute.
We will explain this process by showing examples from our own research that deals with the representation of America in Dutch public discourse, specifically in debates concerning the portable radio and cigarettes. To gauge Dutch public discourse, we have applied the Cycle to the digitized repository of the National Library of the Netherlands, which contains over 600,000 digitized newspapers between 1890 and 1990.
As we adhere a question-driven approach, our example will stem from two specific research question: 1) how was America represented in debates on portable radios, and 2) how has the geographic connotation of the cigarette shifted between 1890-1940? The focus of this paper is not to answer these two questions, however - we use these questions to illustrate how specific tools and techniques can advance historic research in general.
To Do: Tables should be here. I have them in Keynote.
frequencies that change over time work as impetus to further investigate the archive > this output is a new research object America disappeared > not draw conclusions to quickly > the way of naming products has changed.
The Digital Humanities Cycle: Doing digital history iteratively
The Digital Humanities Cycle:
Doing Digital History Iteratively
DH Benelux, June 8-9, 2015, Antwerp
Jesper Verhoef & Melvin Wevers
Translantis Project, Utrecht University
Digital Humanities Approaches to Reference Cultures: The Emergence of the United States in
Dutch Public Discourse between 1890 - 1990 1
Digital History Cycle
● Heuristics: Searching
● Hermeneutics: Analyzing
● Tool criticism: Understanding
how a tool works
● Corpus faceting: Pre-processing
● Source Criticism: Critical
evaluation of historical sources
Question-Driven Use of Tools
● How was America
represented in debates
on portable radios?
● How has the geographic
connotation of the cigarette
shifted between 1920 and
Topic Modeling - Advertisements 1924-1929
sigaret virginia whip chief ardath london goud cigarettes kwaliteit olympia kurk nummer rook
beste gezondheid zoo zulk vooraan punten
sigaret sigaar pijp beter smakelijker wybert amersfoort virginia houbaer tabletten rooken
oudste prijs magnums hollands nasmaak cent nemen noch
sigaret nieuwe onze tabakken vervaardigd doosje import vraagt rookt smaak betere cents
sigaretten turksche fijne kwaliteit edelste uwe proef
sigaret club sigaretten gij army camel tabak cent sopla camels wereld kwaliteit prijs gemaakt
virginia sigaren eerst rookt keel
sigaret adamas egyptische mildste tegenwoordig stuks coupon coupons mavrides fijnste
sigaretten cts geschenken gratis ste naam fijn slechts omar
Tool Criticism: NER
Foreign Locations (top 8) Dutch Locations (top 8) American Locations (top 8)
United Kingdom / London (151 / 84) Rotterdam (496) American (70)
Germany / Berlin / Hamburg (146 / 81
Amsterdam (177) New York (34)
France / Paris (139 / 154) Tilburg (107) Washington (11)
Russia (102) Groningen (94) United States (11)
The United States / America / New
York (11 / 70 / 34)
Breda (64) Chicago (3)
Bruxelles / Antwerp ( 57 /46) Haarlem (48) Virginia (3)
Austria ( 40 / 21) Utrecht (43) North-America (3)
Turkey (39) Arnhem (35)
● iterative: not one-size fits all
● use of contrast between tools
● tools are instruments
● beware / be aware of their