As the idea of a ‘digital humanities’ continues to gain popularity and currency, an increasing range of novel digital technologies are being applied to humanities-related research and education.
The New York Times recently reported on one new application developed to mine the database of billions of books scanned by Google. Developed by Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel, a software program searches Google’s database in search of large patterns in the development of language and ideas. In this way, the rise and fall of certain words in relation to each other can be shown.
Although fascinating and exciting on some levels, I can’t help wondering if the net result will truly become a rich source of new knowledge or if it will be yet another force discouraging the actual reading of books.