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1 On visualizations and abstractions, Lorraine Daston has written “these techniques aim at more than making the invisible visible. They aspire to all-at-once-ness, the condensation of laborious, step-by-step procedures into an immediate coup d’oeil,… What was a painstaking process of calculation and correlation — for example, in the construction of a table of variables — becomes a flash of intuition.” See Lorraine Daston, “On Scientific Observation,” Isis 99.1, March 2008, 97–110. This is the goal of the macroscope: to highlight immediately what often requires careful thought and calculation, sometimes more than is possible for a single person.
2 We are neither the first to coin the term macroscope, nor the first to point its gaze toward human history. It was originally used by Joël de Rosnay (1979), The Macroscope: A New World Scientific System (Harper & Row, New York, NY) to discuss complex societies and has most recently been popularized by Kay Börner (March 1, 2011) “Plug-and-Play Macroscopes.” Communications of the ACM, 54(3), 60, in the context of tools that allow one to see human activities at a distance. Macroscopes have been brought up in the humanities as well, such as by Tim Tangherlini (see his ‘Tracking Trolls: New Challenges from the Folklore Macroscope, eHg Annual Lecture, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, December 12, 2013, http://www.ehumanities.nl/ehg-annual-lecture-tim-tangherlini-ucla/) to similar effect. In literary criticism and history, similar concepts have been called “distant reading,” as articulated by Franco Moretti (2005), Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (London, New York, NY: Verso,) or “macroanalysis” in Matthew L. Jockers (2013), Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History (Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press). In their recent Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture (2013, New York, NY: Riverhead,) on culturomics, Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel wrote of their intent “to build a scope to study human history.”
3 Jo Guldi and David Armitage effectively argue the importance of macroscopic thinking in their monograph The History Manifesto (2014, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
4 See Franco Moretti (2005), Graphs, Maps, Trees, London; New York, NY: Verso, and Margaret Cohen (1999), The Sentimental Education of the Novel, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
5 See Trading Consequences (2014), “Trading Consequences | Exploring the Trading of Commodities in the 19th Century,” http://tradingconsequences.blogs.edina.ac.uk/.
6 Internet Archive (October 26, 2012), “80 Terabytes of Archived Web Crawl Data Available for Research,” Internet Archive Blog, http://blog.archive.org/2012/10/26/80-terabytes-of-archived-web-crawl-data-available-for-research/.
7 The foundational text in this field is Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig (2005). Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. This work primarily focuses on putting information on the web, whereas we explore various ways to improve your research with that information.
8 Roy Rosenzweig (2003), “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” American Historical Review, 108(3), 735–762, available online at http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/links/pdf/introduction/0.6b.pdf.
9 “The Proceedings – Publishing History of the Proceedings – Central Criminal Court,” April 2013, available online at http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Publishinghistory.jsp.
10 Dan Cohen et al. (August 31, 2011), Data Mining with Criminal Intent: Final White Paper, http://criminalintent.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Data-Mining-with-Criminal-Intent-Final1.pdf.
11 The best explanation of this is probably the Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD Comics) video explaining British historian Adam Crymble’s work. See “Big Data + Old History,” YouTube video, 6 September 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp4y-_VoXdA
12 For an incredible overview of this, see Tim Hitchcock (9 December 2013), “Big Data for Dead People: Digital Readings and the Conundrums of Postivism,” Historyonics Blog, http://historyonics.blogspot.ca/2013/12/big-data-for-dead-people-digital.html.
13 Dan Cohen et al. (August 31, 2011), Data Mining with Criminal Intent: Final White Paper, http://criminalintent.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Data-Mining-with-Criminal-Intent-Final1.pdf.
14 Sara Klingenstein, Tim Hitchcock, and Simon DeDeo (2014), “The Civilizing Process in London’s Old Bailey,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U. S. A., 111(26), 9419–9424. Available online at http://www.pnas.org/content/111/26/9419.full.
15 Sandra Blakeslee (June 16, 2014), “Computing Crime and Punishment,” The New York Times, June 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/science/computing-crime-and-punishment.html
16 Ian Milligan (2013), “Illusionary Order: Online Databases, Optical Character Recognition, and Canadian History, 1997-2010,” Canadian Historical Review, 94(4), 540–569.
17 Ewan Klein et al. (March 2014), Trading Consequences: Final White Paper, http://tradingconsequences.blogs.edina.ac.uk/files/2014/03/DiggingintoDataWhitePaper-final.pdf.
18 For more information, see the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure Project website at http://www.ccri.uottawa.ca/CCRI/Home.html.
19 See the Programme de recherche en d´emographie historique at http://www.genealogy.umontreal.ca/fr/LePrdh.
20 Michel et al. (2011), “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books,” Science, 331, 6014, and http://books.google.com/ngrams.
21 Remember, to do a phrase search, use quotation marks around your phrase. Otherwise, the search will return results where the words are in close proximity, which can skew your results. See https://books.google.com/ngrams/info.
22 Aptly put in Ted Underwood (20 February 2013), “Wordcounts are Amazing,” The Stone and the Shell Research Blog, http://tedunderwood.com/2013/02/20/wordcounts-are-amazing/.
23 Ben Zimmer (18 October 2012), “Bigger, Better Google Ngrams: Brace Yourself for the Power of Grammar,” The Atlantic.com, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/bigger-better-google-ngrams-brace-yourself-for-the-power-of-grammar/263487/.
24 Ian Milligan (2012), “Mining the ‘Internet Graveyard’: Rethinking the Historians’ Toolkit,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 23(2), 21–64.
25 Anthony Grafton (March 2011), “Loneliness and Freedom,” AHA Perspectives, http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2011/1103/1103pre1.cfm.
26 Comment by Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden on Anthony Grafton, “Loneliness and Freedom.”
27 Toni Weller (ed) (2013), History in the Digital Age, Routledge, Abingdon, UK. See also increasingly prominent venues such as Global Perspectives on Digital History, http://gpdh.org/
28 Walter Scheidel, Elijah Meeks, and Jonathan Weiland (2012), “ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World,” http://orbis.stanford.edu/#.
29 Walter Scheidel, Elijah Meeks, and Jonathan Weiland (May 2012), “ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World,” http://orbis.stanford.edu/orbis2012/ORBIS_v1paper_20120501.pdf
30 “Travel Across the Roman Empire in Real Time with ORBIS,” Ars Technica, accessed 25 June 2013, http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/05/how-across-the-roman-empire-in-real-time-with-orbis/; “London to Rome, on Horseback,” The Economist, accessed 25 June 2013, http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/05/business-travel-romans; Rebecca J. Rosen (23 May 2012), “Plan a Trip Through History With ORBIS, a Google Maps for Ancient Rome,” The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/plan-a-trip-through-history-with-orbis-a-google-maps-for-ancient-rome/257554/.
31 The interested reader should follow http://www.digitalhumanitiesnow.org and @dhnow on Twitter to be kept abreast of current developments and projects in digital history. The resource is a machine–human collaboration meant to surface the best recent digital humanities work, which is itself a leveraging of big data that has only recently become possible.
32 The annual digital humanities conference is testament to the diversity of the field; the DH 2014 Conference Call for Proposals was translated into more than 20 languages alone. As historians, we acknowledge that “digital history” can be viewed as having a rather different foundational narrative, emerging out of work in oral and public history (though our own personal trajectories are more from the digital humanities side of things than from those subfields of history). See for instance the post by Stephen Robertson, where he draws out the differences between “digital humanities” and “digital history.” http://drstephenrobertson.com/blog-post/the-differences-between-digital-history-and-digital-humanities/.
33 See Susan Hockey (2004), “The History of Humanities Computing,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth (eds), Oxford: Blackwell, http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405103213/9781405103213.xml&chunk.id=ss1-2-1.
34 Thomas Nelson Winter (1999), “Roberta Busa, S.J., and the Invention of the MachineGenerated Concordance,” Classical Bulletin, 75(1), 6.
36 Susan Hockey (2004), “The History of Humanities Computing,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth (eds), Oxford: Blackwell.
37 Thomas Nelson Winter (1999), “Roberta Busa, S.J., and the Invention of the MachineGenerated Concordance,” Classical Bulletin, 75(1), 6.
38 Susan Hockey (2004), “The History of Humanities Computing,” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth (eds), Oxford:Blackwell.
39 The longue dur´ee stands opposite the history of events, of instances, covering instead a very long time span in an interdisciplinary social science framework. In a long essay, Braudel noted that one can then see both structural crises of economies, and structures that constrain human society and development. For more, see Fernand Braudel, “History and the Social Sciences: The Longue Duree” in Fernand Braudel, On History, trans. Sarah Matthews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 27. The essay was originally printed in the Annales E.S.C., no. 4 (October–December 1958).
40 Charles M. Dollar (1969), “Innovation in Historical Research: A Computer Approach,” Computers and the Humanities, 3(3).
41 Joel H. Silbey (1972), “Clio and Computers: Moving into Phase II, 1970–1972,” Computers and the Humanities, 7(2).
42 Michael Katz (1975), The People of Hamilton, Canada West: Family and Class in a Mid-Nineteenth-Century City, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. See also A. Gordon Darroch and Michael D. Ornstein (1980), “Ethnicity and Occupational Structure in Canada in 1871: The Vertical Mosaic in Historical Perspective,” Canadian Historical Review, 61(3), 305–333.
43 Computational historians in 1967 were already arguing against the common notion that quantitative history needed to be positivist history. Vern L. Bullough (1967), “The Computer and the Historian–Some Tentative Beginnings,” Computers and the Humanities, 1(3).
44 Witness the debate over Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman (1974), Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, which was condemned for reducing the human condition of slavery to numbers. On the flip side, it also provided context in which to situate individual stories. The debate continues in countless historical methods classes today. For the general estrangement between the historical profession and cliometrics, see Ian Anderson(2008), “History and Computing,” Making History: The Changing Face of the Profession in Britain, http://www.history.ac.uk/makinghistory/resources/articles/history_and_computing.html, (accessed 20 December 2012).
45 Attendees included Gregory Crane and Roy Rosenzweig. Program at http://www.cis.yale.edu/htxt-conf/.
46 Available at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jahc/browse.html.
47 Willard McCarty (2005), Humanities Computing, Basingstoke , England; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
48 John Unsworth (November 8, 2002), “Unsworth: What Is Humanities Computing and What Is Not?,” http://computerphilologie.uni-muenchen.de/jg02/unsworth.html.
49 Patrik Svensson (2009), “Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 3(3), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html.
50 Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (2010), “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?,” ADE Bulletin, no. 150, 55–61.
51 See Weingart’s blog series on digital humanities conferences, http://www.scottbot.net/HIAL/?tag=dhconf.
52 Stephen Richardson (23 May 2014), “The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities,” drstephenrobertsom.com, http://drstephenrobertson.com/2014/05/23/the-differences-between-digital-history-and-digital-humanities/.
53 Jason Heppler (2013), “What Is Digital Humanities?,” http://whatisdigitalhumanities.com/.
54 A great overview of big data can be found in Viktor Mayer-Sch¨onberger and Kenneth Cukier (2013), Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, Boston, MA: Eamon Dolan Book.
55 See, for example, http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/.
56 Presaged in the aforementioned Roy Rosenzweig (2003), “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” American Historical Review, 108(3), 735–762, available online at http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/links/pdf/introduction/0.6b.pdf.
57 James Gleick (2011), The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, New York: Pantheon.
58 Chip Walter (25 July 2005), “Kryder’s Law,” Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kryders-law.
59 John Gantz and David Reinsel (June 2011), “Extracting Value from Chaos,” IDC iView, http://www.emc.com/collateral/analyst-reports/idc-extracting-value-from-chaos-ar.pdf.
60 Twitter (November 2012), “Total Tweets Per Minute | Twitter Developers,” Twitter.com, https://dev.twitter.com/discussions/3914; YouTube (May, 29, 2013), “Statistics – YouTube,” YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html
61 See the Phaedrus dialogue by Plato, available in English translation at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedrus.html.
62 James Gleick (2012), The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, New York: Pantheon.
63 Robert William Fogel (1983), “‘Scientific History’ and Traditional History,” in Robert William Fogel and G.R. Elton (eds), Which Road to the Past? Two Views of History, New Haven, NJ and London: Yale University Press.
64 See, for a brief introduction, Keith Jenkins (1991), Rethinking History, London: Routledge and Alun Munslow (2010), The Future of History, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
65 In the years ahead, it is possible the digital turn will render the word “narrative” too confining for describing what historians produce. We continue to use the word in this book, however projects like SCALAR and ORBIS are making the term increasingly inaccurate. A more encompassing term may be “historiographies.”
66 R.G. Collingwood (1965), The Idea of History, London: Oxford University Press.
67 A point made by a good number of historians, but see Keith Jenkins (1991), Rethinking History, London: Routledge and Alun Munslow (2010), The Future of History, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan for concise introductions to this line of reasoning.
68 A point discussed at the Stanford Digital Humanities Reading Group, as recounted by Mike Widner, “Debating the Methods in Matt Jockers’s Macroanalysis,” Stanford Digital Humanities Blog, https://digitalhumanities.stanford.edu/debating-methods-matt-jockerss-macroanalysis, accessed 6 September 2013.
69 Trevor Owens (February 3, 2012), “Deforming Reality with Word Lens,” Trevor Owens, http://www.trevorowens.org/2012/02/deforming-reality-with-word-lens/.
70 Stephen Ramsay (2011), Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, p. 33.
71 Trevor Owens (February 3, 2012), “Deforming Reality with Word Lens,” Trevor Owens, http://www.trevorowens.org/2012/02/deforming-reality-with-word-lens/.