The History Manifesto and Big Data

I published this review of the ‘Big Data’ chapter in The History Manifesto written by historians, Jo Guldi and David Armitage on my history blog last month. It is now on the reading list of HIST4170, Exploring Digital Humanities, a course offered by the history department at the University of Guelph, Canada.

Stumbling Through the Past

Book cover of The History Manifesto The History Manifesto by Jo Guldi and David Armitage, (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

In my last post I reviewed the provocative book, The History Manifesto. Written by history academics Jo Guldi (Brown University) and David Armitage (Harvard), it is a call to historians to turn their work towards investigating long periods of history (the longue-durée) in order to address the big issues affecting humanity such as inequality and climate change. I set aside one chapter in that review for special attention. In this post I consider chapter four, ‘Big questions, big data’.

There are many ways that technology can be used by the historian The ‘Big Data’ chapter in The History Manifesto discusses the use of topic modelling tools to highlight the type of language most often used and the topics most widely discussed in the past. Guldi and Armitage also recognise the potential for digital tools to uncover…

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