New Data? The Role of Statistics in DH


Despite the constant refrain suggesting that digital humanities should take better account of computer science, it is actually statistics that provides a set of approaches for exploring, analyzing, and thinking critically about data in order to posit new findings and questions related to our fields of study. In this chapter, we argue that three areas of statistics--exploratory data analysis (EDA), data visualization, and statistical computing--are central to the digital humanities. We focus first on how EDA is obscured, but undergirds quantitative work in the digital humanities. We then show how data visualization offers a theoretical framework for understanding graphics as a form of argument with which the field should contend. Finally, we turn to the role of programming libraries to suggest we consider statistical computing in lieu of one-off tools.

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© 2019, University of Minnesota Press. This chapter first appeared in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019.

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