#46 Encyclopaedia Britannica
Turning the pages of a book that is over 250 years old is an awe-inspiring experience.
Mike talks to Robert Betteridge from the National Library of Scotland and Ash Charlton from the University of Edinburgh about the first few editions of the ground-breaking Encyclopaedia Britannica, and finds out why you don't wear white gloves with this kind of artefact.
The encyclopaedia was a disruptive and innovative concept; way ahead of its time on social justice and in democratising expert knowledge.
Robert explains how the encyclopaedia came about through an early version of crowdfunding and Ash describes her use of digital tools to read between the lines and pick up hidden patterns related to race and slavery.
You and your students can explore digital versions of Britannica and even carry out your own digital analysis with out-of-the-box tools (thanks Ash for curating these links):
National Library of Scotland Digital Gallery (where you can view images and text): https://digital.nls.uk/gallery/
National Library of Scotland Data Foundry (downloadable datasets with images and text): https://data.nls.uk/
Encyclopaedia Britannica in the Digital Gallery:
Encyclopaedia Britannica dataset in the Data Foundry:
Data analysis tools on the Data Foundry, including the tutorials and Jupyter Notebooks with NLS collections, as well as recommendations for freely available tools (at different levels of programming ability): https://data.nls.uk/tools/
The out-of-the-box tools I recommend are:
AntConc (downloaded to run locally):
VoyantTools (can be run on web browser):
To code your own text mining and analysis tools:
The Ready to Code initiative by the American Library Association is aimed at libraries, but the resources and strategies are aimed at encouraging computational thinking, and some of the resources could be easily adapted outside of libraries:
At a more advanced level these are some good resources on digital humanities skills.
The Programming Historian:
There are lessons in English, French, Spanish & Portuguese.
The University of Edinburgh's Centre for Data, Culture & Society has training guides to some methods of digital analysis, including data visualisation and text analysis:
(disclaimer: I (Ash!) have worked for them in the past and am affiliated with them, but these are helpful nonetheless and are aimed at humanities analysis with free tools, where possible.)