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Digital humanities: humanities research in the digital age
Digital humanities: humanities research in the digital age

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1.2 Tools for analysing digital library content today

We can do a lot of analysis working with the metadata. For example, we can analyse correspondence networks without needing transcriptions of letters, using a resource like Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] which is a growing catalogue of correspondence.

We can also use tools that help us analyse the digital content. This is often called ‘distant reading’ after Moretti (2000).


The Google Ngram Viewer allows us to chart the frequency of different items in Google Books texts from different times.

The graph below shows how the frequency of the words ‘radio’ and ‘wireless’ varies across time.

This is a graph. It shows the frequency of the words ‘radio’ and wireless’ between 1800 and 2010.
Figure 2

Activity 2 Using the NGram viewer

See if you can obtain the same graph as above, i.e. the frequency of wireless and radio in Google Ngram Viewer, using corpus English (2019) and smoothing 3. See how changing the settings affects the outcome and reflect on what this tells us about the corpus. (With thanks to Ylva Berglund Prytz, University of Oxford, for this question.)

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