Ryan ShawJoin us on February 13 at 2:30 p.m. in Reynolda 301 for the first DH Speaker Series event of 2015. Ryan Shaw (Assistant Professor of Information & Library Science at UNC-Chapel Hill) will give a talk titled “Sorry Things Are Such a Mess: Computational Text Analysis in Practice.”

Once a tool for the select few with access to massive computing clusters and skilled programmers, computational text analysis is now something that the individual scholar can do on her laptop with the help of some open-source tools. Yet getting started with computational text analysis can still be difficult. Tutorials on how to use the software tools are invaluable, but because they necessarily use ‘tidy’ examples they can present a distorted view of what is involved with getting an actual project off the ground. At the other extreme, presentations of successful text analysis projects impress audiences with clever interpretations and beautiful visualizations, yet can leave them wondering how exactly one gets from here to there. Hence this talk will attempt to find a middle ground, by presenting a ‘warts-and-all’ account of an ongoing effort to computationally analyze text transcripts of interviews from the Southern Oral History Program’s ‘Long Civil Rights Movement’ project. Ryan will explain the motivation for the project, what he thought he would be doing, and what he actually did, including all the false starts, dead ends, and bad ideas, as well as the occasional success.

Learn more about Ryan at his website, aeshin.org.


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