Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Google Scholars, Books, and Digits

Earlier today, I read the Christian Science Monitor article “The E-Book, the E-Reader, and the Future of Reading,” in which the engineering director of Google Book Search is paraphrased as saying this:
Imagine, Clancy suggests, that a scholar is digging for information to weave into a new paper. In the past, the scholar would spend hours running circles through the stacks of the university library, perhaps emerging with three texts. The perspectives, angles, and arguments offered in the three texts would necessarily constrain the breadth of analysis as compared with what that same scholar is able to access today by clicking through millions of texts, searching each volume for phrases or words that correspond to the area of interest.
Well, I spent a good bit of time running circles around the bibliographical records of Google Books today and emerged with a few PDFs. I’m searching for more than verbal links, but I wonder what kind of textual analysis can be done with this:

(I have commented on these digital issues before, here and here.)