Work Product Blog

Matt Wilkens, post-doctoral fellow at Rice’s Humanities Research Center, recently launched Work Product, a blog that chronicles his research in digital humanities, contemporary fiction, and literary theory.  Matt details how he is working through the challenges he faces as he tries to analyze the relationship between allegory and revolution by using text mining, such as:
•    Where and how to get large literary corpora. Matt looks at how much content is available through Project Gutenberg, Open Content Alliance, Google Books, and  Hathi Trust and  how difficult it is to access
•    Evaluating Part of Speech taggers, with information about speed and accuracy

I think that other researchers working on text mining projects will benefit from Matt’s careful documentation of his process.

By the way, Matt’s blog can be thought of as part of the movement called “open notebook science,” which Jean Claude Bradley defines as “a laboratory notebook… that is freely available and indexed on common search engines.”  Other humanities and social sciences blogs that are likewise ongoing explorations of particular research projects include Wesley Raabe’s blog, Another Anthro Blog, and Erkan’s Field Diary.  (Please alert me to others!)


7 responses to “Work Product Blog

  1. Hi Lisa-

    I started keeping a blog this semester for just the reasons you describe:

    This is the first I’d heard of open notebook science, though. My models for keeping a blog were actually your blog and that of Wesley Raabe. I’ve been encouraging my graduate students to try and blog through their work, though, and having the open notebook example to point at should help allay some of their misgiving (what if someone poaches my project?)

  2. Hi Les,

    Thanks for letting me know about your blog–looks terrific! I think the open notebook model is enormously attractive–it’s what I intended to do with my blog, but I keep getting distracted…

  3. Hi Lisa,

    So you’re the culprit for the recent spike in traffic. A link from you is just about as powerful as mentioning both Lincoln and Stowe in the same post. As for Les’s students’ concern–about poaching–it could happen. But the work that I do on blog seems not to have much monetary value.

    Although I blog, I’m still torn between throwing everything out on blog and keeping those things until they can be rounded into more serious shape for submission.

    Another thing to warn about is that bloggers have remarkable tools for analyzing the reception of a blog. The most intriguing tool behind the curtain is the source of hits, whether someone searches and finds you on Google or tags you on bookmark site. What I don’t like is the almost irresistible seductive power, because it feeds one’s vanity.

    One dark confession is that I don’t particularly want to feed someone else’s vanity. Sometimes, when I find a link on a blog, I don’t want to click the link and let someone know that I found their blog by searching for their name on Google. So I actually waste time by transcribing or typing another search so that the link does not look as if it comes from a search on their name.

    I confess. Here’s my penance. So, Lisa Spiro, you deserve a few more hits that originate in searches for your name. Les, you would too, except there are so many Les Harrison’s I don’t care about. You’ll have to be a blogging fiend to take over your name on the search results. When I search Google for “machine readable poe,” I mean Les Harrison.

    I had better go back to preparing an exam.


  4. Hi LIsa,
    I started a blog about my research a few months ago: It is very much still in the coming of age category, though. I’m trying to document my research on environmental sustainability bloggers and intereactive text.

    Thanks for the tip about the open notebook model. It looks interesting and it may give me a bit more direction and discipline with my blog. Cheers

  5. Hi Wesley,

    Oh yes, blogging can feed one’s vanity. But web stats can also give you a sense of how ideas travel–it’s much more satisfying to write a blog post and see where the readers are coming from then to send an article out and never know if it’s read, who read it, how people found it, etc. Thanks, by the way, for pumping up my own google rankings. 😉



  6. that’s great! Thanks for the tip

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