What We’re Reading: August 11, 2011 Edition

In the news this week, discussion continues on proposed changes for human-subject research, Rosa Parks’s archive is up for sale, and the Squeeze Imaging Project goes online. Then, read one historian’s concerns about “culturomics” (a project that analyzes text in the Google Books project), discover 5 reasons to love libraries, and learn about 600 New Yorkers’ experiences in the 9/11 Oral History Project. Finally, check out EDSITEment’s Back-to-School Reading Index and an infographic that tracks U.S. post office expansion from 1700 to 1900.

 News

Insights

    culturomics
  • Analyzing Culture with Google Books: Is It Social Science?
    Historian Anita Guerrini examines the recent “culturomics” project (initially unveiled in a Science article and discussed at the last AHA annual meeting) that analyzes the 500 billion digitized words in Google Books, and expresses the need for caution, explaining,  “I think culturomics is a nifty tool, but we need to be cautious and critical about this kind of digital data and about claims that culturomics could make ‘much of what [historians] do trivially easy.’”
  • Preserving the Library in the Digital Age
    Historian Benjamin Carp gives five reasons why he loves libraries and why he hopes they will “remain intact for the foreseeable future”: seeing rare texts in person (and how they fit in a collection), the serendipity of browsing the stacks, knowledgeable librarians, atmosphere, and promoting literacy and free access.
  • New York’s 9/11: An Oral Archive Takes Shape
    The 9/11 Oral History Project, from the Columbia Center for Oral History, has documented over 600 New Yorkers’ experiences in 900 hours of audio and video and 22,000 pages of transcripts. Now, 19 of those stories are featured in an upcoming book.

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Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend

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