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HermeneuticaComputer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities$
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Geoffrey Rockwell and Stéfan Sinclair

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034357

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034357.001.0001

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False Positives: Opportunities and Dangers in Big-Data Text Analysis1

False Positives: Opportunities and Dangers in Big-Data Text Analysis1

Chapter:
(p.113) 7 False Positives: Opportunities and Dangers in Big-Data Text Analysis1
Source:
Hermeneutica
Author(s):

Geoffrey Rockwell

Stéfan Sinclair

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034357.003.0007

What is big data, and what does it have to do with the humanities? The Snowden revelations have drawn attention to the opportunities and dangers to the gathering of large collections of data, including the collecting of text messages and email. Techniques that digital humanists have used in the study of individual texts are now being scaled up to study large collections. The digital humanities have a valuable historical and ethical perspective on big data analytics. Questions about what to do with too much information go back to Plato. Questions about the completeness of data, the usefulness of metadata, and the value of analytics can help us understand what big data can and cannot do. In particular we need to be careful of false positives, or false predictions based on data too large to check with other methods.

Keywords:   Big Data, Metadata, False Positives, Data Analytics, Edward Snowden, NSA

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