Before reading or watching anything for this week, I first had to look-up “text mining” and “n-grams.” I attempted to read without doing so and became lost immediately. I’m not sure I understand, but I believe text mining has something to do with organizing information on websites to make it easier for the text to be searched by search engines. N-grams were an ever greater mystery and I can only conclude they are somehow associated with the text organizing. I have come to the conclusion that Dr. McClurken put those terms on the syllabus to be intimidating.
My response to the Google video was a resounding “…what?” The comments alone were intimidating because of their writers’ evident knowledge on an issue I listened to with great pain. After skimming through the video, I’m not sure what I was supposed to get out of it, other than to be once again reminded that I am not technologically adept. My best guess is that it was talking about how Google translates foreign languages for its users. I think someone with linguistic training would have better understood the language alignment he kept talking about.
The same confusion followed for the Babel article on data mining, Digital History Hacks, and Dan Cohen’s blog. However, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” was clearer, while the site on Mining the Dispatch and “Applying Quantitative Analysis to Classic Lit” were helpful examples of the text mining and digital history connection. As someone who was too young to research before the internet, I cannot clearly see how the internet might have changed the way we read and view material. I can, however, identify with the way the author describes how he now views material. (See post title.) By the end of the article, I couldn’t tell if the author was trying to warn the readers about not letting our mental processes be consumed by mechanical thought, or if he was simply foretelling an inevitably dire future.