[Milton-L] Culturomics? Genome?

Campbell, W. Gardner Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu
Fri Dec 17 16:50:15 EST 2010

Thanks for your generous response, Cynthia, which has me feeling more cheerful already! (I'm trying to keep Louis's holiday theme alive here.)

I can see why one might find "throughput" (no hyphen so far as I know) barbaric, but it's hard for me to imagine a way to talk about quantity-moving-through-system-or-interface-per-unit-of-time without some such coinage. It's sometimes fun to watch these coinages emerge, especially the technical ones, in which there's often a childlike directness born of the need for disambiguation. What could be more direct than "throughput"? 

It's also very pleasant to report that "disambiguation" and "disambiguate" are themselves safely within the OED, which is itself a kind of proto-culturomic resource (I know I've just nauseated some of my friends, but bear with me). As I look at the OED definitions and the timelines I love to contemplate and have used in my scholarship many, many times, I think of how useful, flawed, hazardous, and essential this OED is. For me, this new corpus allows some of the OED's greatest ambitions to take on a rich and strange new life (just as the OED online has done, for that matter). 

More good cheer, please!


-----Original Message-----
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Gilliatt, Cynthia Ann - gilliaca
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 3:35 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Culturomics? Genome?

""High-throughput" means about what you'd guess: "throughput" is a way of talking about quantity going through a system or interface of some kind per unit of time. So "high-throughput data collection and analysis" suggests the extraordinary scale of the project. An unprecedented number of words has been entered into the database at great speed (that is, over just a few years), and the various patterns one can seek within that database, as well as (this is crucial, actually) the results those searches generate, can be compared, combined, concatenated, and so forth in similarly high quantities and speeds."

I think I get this. I still think 'through-put" is somewhat barbaric.

"Quantity is important for obvious reasons: it's easier to make the case that the data are representative if more data are collected. Speed is just as important, for less obvious reasons perhaps: we can ask more questions sooner, iteratively refine the means of collection, maintain a certain level of investigative consistency, broaden access, and so forth."


The work of interpretation, as the article suggests, is different, and essential. I would venture to say that the authors would readily say that the work of interpretation is more important, since that's a conversation about meaning. But I'm speculating here.


"P.S. No smart-alec postscript, but something I find genuinely useful: if one enters into a Google search box the word "define" (sans question marks) and the word one seeks to define, various definitions emerge from around the web. It's actually quite fascinating, in my view--a bit like a real-time OED of the present. I know the latter makes little sense, but after my technical explanations I reclaim the squishy privileges of my nonce analogies!"

I'll check that out.

And a word of greeting to all who are grading: no papers to grade in retirement!  Of course, that does not prevent one from muttering at the media and writing picky letters to the editor or the ombudsman!

Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/

More information about the Milton-L mailing list