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Culture & Religion

Culturomics Just a Tool?

The analysis of hundreds of billions of words in Google Books brings quantitative corpus research into a new phase. Is Culturomics a new field or just a new tool, the author asks.

Humanities scholars may someday count as a watershed the paper that appeared on Wednesday in Science, titled “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books.” But they’ll have certain things to get past before they can appreciate that. …A lot of scholars have reservations about studying literature en bloc, mindful of Seneca’s admonition that distrahit animum librorum multitudo, or loosely, “Too many books spoil the prof.” And they’re apprehensive about the prospect of turning literary scholarship into an engineering problem. “Some people worry that the effect of these quantitative studies will be to trivialize scholarship.”


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