Thursday, January 10, 2013


Just a quick post to point readers of this blog to my new Atlantic article on anachronisms in Kushner/Spielberg's Lincoln; and to direct Atlantic readers interested in more anachronisms over to my other blog, Prochronisms, which is currently churning on through the new season of Downton Abbey. (And to stick around here; my advanced market research shows you might like some of the posts about mapping historical shipping routes.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Keeping the words in Topic Models

Following up on my previous topic modeling post, I want to talk about one thing humanists actually do with topic models once they build them, most of the time: chart the topics over time. Since I think that, although Topic Modeling can be very useful, there's too little skepticism about the technique, I'm venturing to provide it (even with, I'm sure, a gross misunderstanding or two). More generally, the sort of mistakes temporal changes cause should call into question the complacency with which humanists tend to  'topics' in topic modeling as stable abstractions, and argue for a much greater attention to the granular words that make up a topic model.

In the middle of this, I will briefly veer into some odd reflections about how the post-lapsarian state of language. Some people will want to skip that; maybe some others will want to skip to it.