Children's lit, digital humanities, Python, and a shared notebook
July 19, 2021 11:28 AM   Subscribe

"Need a fun way to learn about computational text analysis for digital humanities?" Well, "we should tell you about The Data-Sitters Club, how it works, and who we are. It all started one day when Quinn Dombrowski was on vacation in Las Vegas and started getting nostalgic about Ann M. Martin’s iconic series about girlhood in the upper-middle-class American suburbs of the 1990s." Start with "Quinn's Great Idea" to read a series of colloquial narratives chronicling research using the Baby-Sitters Club corpus. For example: Curious about what we can learn from the series's formulaic "Chapter 2" duplications?
posted by brainwane (10 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
I am just starting in Python and so sad I did not start in time to participate in this. Baby-sitters club is high on my list of "less common topics you could absolutely crush trivia and/or a spontaneous Ted talk on, as an adult."
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:43 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

I have never read a Baby-Sitters Club book (so far), but I love everything about this. I love the friendly and accessible tone, I love the detailed step-by-step narrative (the "well, Voyant's taking a while to process the data, let's just talk about what's going on while we wait" screen shots in DSC #6: Voyant's Big Day are great both narratively and as an illustration of how Voyant works), I love the nerdery. I love the character descriptions of the real-life team. (I would like Quinn to make me a bunch of octopus and dinosaur festooned clothes. I love her dress made of newly-public-domain images from the Mean Copyright Law installment.)

I love it all.

brainwane, with some of your recent posts, I wish I could stop time for a couple of months so I could go read all the links carefully and give them proper thought and then comment on them, but alas, my time-pausing machine has not shown up yet. But I am filled with delightful anticipation at the thought of really working through these and coming to understand everything they're doing, and enjoying a wallow in the DSC's enthusiasm all the while.

Thank you so much for posting this. This is fabulous. I am so grateful.
posted by kristi at 4:40 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]

Wow, this is awesome, thanks for posting!
posted by chaiyai at 4:47 PM on July 19

It's so surprising to discover something you did not know that you wanted but once you find it, you are enormously pleased. This is one of those things for me. Thanks, brainwane!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:38 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]

This is amazing and I wish it had existed when I was in college.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:42 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

I love that this exists, I am just clearly not smart enough to understand it the more I read on. Darn it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:37 PM on July 20

Reductive, but one way to think of it is the extension of and expansion upon the tools previously used by linguists to systematically analyze a collection of texts (be they written works or transcribed speech) to humanist projects (such as literary criticism).

When I was in school the only things approaching this were Concordance and/or AntConc, or alternatively nVivo and the like for quantitative encoding of qualitative data sets.

The digital humanities explainer from AntConc's homepage might be useful.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:56 PM on July 21


I'll give you reductive! My hot take on DH: too much digital, not enough humanities. I took an intro to Digital Humanities course about five years ago. It was interesting, but I formed the opinion that the tools constrain work too much. I mean, people aren't starting with an idea for a project, and then finding or building software to implement the project, they are learning how to use some DH tools and then making a project that those tools can do. That is not always a bad thing, of course, but I was a little underwhelmed by most of the stuff we looked at.
posted by thelonius at 2:40 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]

This looks so amazing, and I look forward to having some time to read through them! Thank you!
posted by hydropsyche at 4:07 PM on July 21

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