Mining the ‘Internet Graveyard’: Rethinking the Historians’ Toolkit
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“Mining the Internet Graveyard” argues that the advent of massive quantity of born-digital historical sources necessitates a rethinking of the historians’ toolkit. The contours of a third wave of computational history are outlined, a trend marked by ever-increasing amounts of digitized information (especially web based), falling digital storage costs, a move to the cloud, and a corresponding increase in computational power to process these sources. Following this, the article uses a case study of an early born-digital archive at Library and Archives Canada – Canada’s Digital Collections project (CDC) – to bring some of these problems into view. An array of off-the-shelf data analysis solutions, coupled with code written in Mathematica, helps us bring context and retrieve information from a digital collection on a previously inaccessible scale. The article concludes with an illustration of the various computational tools available, as well as a call for greater digital literacy in history curricula and professional development.