Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google
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Search engines for the humanities that go beyond Google

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Presentation at the Brainstorm Meeting on e-Humanities, March 29, 2011.

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
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  • ABSTRACT:

    Web search engines like Google are very powerful for finding general information about a topic: If I search for 'Multatuli', Google gives me pointers to websites with general information about the writer. But if I seek more specific information, such as which books Multatuli wrote, how other writers responded to his work and what the historical significance of his books was, this general search strategy is no longer sufficient. This is because Google returns complete web pages, no matter how specific the query is.

    Most search systems for text collections have been inspired on the Google approach. One example is the search interface to The Digital Library of Dutch Literature (DBNL): If I enter the query ‘Multatuli’ in this interface, I get 111 pages with results. Clicking on one of the retrieved fragments takes me to a document in which only my query term Multatuli has been highlighted. Returning documents without any guidance through the content and context of the text leaves a big burden on humanities scholars who work with textual resources for their research. They have to read through the texts in order to extract the information that is relevant for their study.

    In my presentation, I will show the first steps in the development of search systems that do not only index documents but also label important terms and entities in these documents and provide links to background information. For example, when viewing a document about Multatuli, important terms and names ('Bilderdijk', 'Java', 'subjectivism') will be highlighted by such a system. By moving the mouse over one of the terms, the most important factual information will be shown ('Bilderdijk was a Dutch poet'). Clicking the entity will give access to more facts ('Bilderdijk lived in Hamburg') and other occurrences of the entity in the collection. With this type of functionality in search systems, humanities researchers will be able to much better analyze the content of relevant documents than with the well-known 'Google-approach'.
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