Parry, Marc. “The Humanities Go Google.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 28 May 2010. Web. 20 January 2013.
Marc Parry reports on Stanford University’s Literature Lab, a quantitatively-driven humanities labratory dedicated to read entire libraries, treating books like data in order to find large-scale patterns across history. The lab, directed by Franco Moretti and Matthew L. Jockers and run by several of graduate students from English, history, and computer science, engage in distant reading practices, using algorithms to highlight and trace words and phrases across texts. The researchers are working with Google Books to expand the digital research project because the Google Books archive, which totals over 12 million books, has far more data to mine than any one library’s own digital collection. However, since Google Books was not built for academic research, many of its digitized books lack the necessary (or accurate) tags or metadata to help sort and categorize the books for research. The Stanford research is significant because it is introducing a new methodology to the study of literary history.
“But here’s the rub. Google Books, as others point out, wasn’t really built for research. It was built to create more content to sell ads against. And it was built thinking that people would read one book at a time” (4).