[Humanist] 29.824 search engine with a difference

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Mar 30 07:08:28 CEST 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 824.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2016 23:57:06 +0200
        From: Domenico Fiormonte <domenico.fiormonte at gmail.com>
        Subject: search engine with(out) a difference?


Dear Ken,

you wrote that EPI Search "works by placing blocks of text into the
engine", but either you and the info availabe on the ISCE web site do not
specify in which language. So I assumed it would have worked (to an extent,
of course) also with other European languages. However, the results I've
got are quite discouraging.

I've pasted in the query box three foreign paragraphs or fragments from
different sources (a classical theater text in German, a scholarly essay in
Spanish, an academic essay originally written in Italian and later
translated in English):

1) the incipit of Bertolt Brecht, Leben Des Galilei (German original text);
2) the incipit  of an essay written by a famous Italian scholar, Carlo
Ginzuburg (Italian text);
3) the English translation of the same passage;
4) a passage taken from a famous essay written by the Spanish philospher
Ortega y Gasset (Spanish text).

As for (1) and (2), I got a "Runtime error page":

Server Error in '/' Application.
[...]
<!-- Web.Config Configuration File -->

<configuration>
    <system.web>
        <customErrors mode="Off"/>
    </system.web>
</configuration>
[...]

Results for (3) and (4) can be seen at the end of this message... (I've
omitted Google results included in the EPI Search for Ginzburg (3).

To be honest, what worries me more is not that EPI does not work with
non-English texts, but the intrinsic (and well-known) bias of its sources:
"Epi-search then runs a 'find more like this search' to recommend books
from the 5000 volume ISCE.edu library shows you how and why the results
shown were recommended AND provides links to 'good' related searches from 9
academic databases including: [...]".

I'm not sure what you mean here for "good searches", but we know that both
Thompson Reuters Web of Knowledge and Scopus shape institutional and
individual rankings in the global academic world, reinforcing the _de
facto_ dominance of the English language within the sciences, social
sciences, arts and the humanities (thanks to Ernesto Priego for pointing me
to this resource:

http://geography.oii.ox.ac.uk/?page=geographic-knowledge-freebase).

This situation is not just a source of perpetual frustration for non
English-speakers who struggle -- especially in the Social Sciences and the
Humanities -- for expressing their ideas on cultural objects and phenomena
which are certainly not linguistically "neutral", but constitutes the
biggest threat to cultural and scientific diversity. I'd lke to remember
that cultural-linguistic diversity and variation are not a luxury we can't
just afford, but the condition for the existence of what we call "culture"
on this  planet.

(Well, and if you are still uncertain, you should know that multiligualism
is good for your brain:
http://aclc.uva.nl/news-and-events/events/content2/lectures/2016/05/13-smart-lecture.html
)

While I realize that these are all huge issues that cannot be discussed on
this list, I would like to add that it should be our duty as scholars of
all disciplines to make explicit and transparent our choices at all levels,
including (and perhaps especially) at the level of software: the cultural
and linguistic hegemony of English databases is supported and deployed by
related softwares, algorithms, and encodings. Of course I think that ISCE
is doing a great job in making available for free part of its library, and
the EPI search engine can be a very useful tool. The problem relies in
*what* we are representing, and *how* we are doing it. It is our
responsability to preserve cultural diversity, and even relatively small
players can make a difference by building more inclusive "representations".

Or is it the destiny of all human culture produced/processed in a language
different from English to disappear under obscure "runtime errors"?

All the best

Domenico

2016-03-23 7:49 GMT+01:00 Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 807.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 18:48:06 +0100
>         From: Ken Friedman <ken.friedman.sheji at icloud.com>
>         Subject: FREE Academic Research Engine
>
> Dear All,
>
> Please let me direct your attention to a new research engine created by
> Michael Lissack at the Institute for Studies in Coherence and Emergence
> (ISCE). As well as working as Executive Director of ISCE, Michael Lissack
> is a professor at the Tongji University College of Design and Innovation.
>
> This tool is called Epi-Search. It works by placing blocks of text into
> the engine. Epi-Search then examines the blocks of text to suggest other
> useful sources.
>
> A description of Epi-Search appears below.
>
> You will find Epi-Search at URL:
>
> http://epi-search.com
>
> It is free for use, and worth a try.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Ken Friedman
>
> --
>
> Epi-Search (http://epi-search.com) is the only research tool on the web
> which allows you to input up to 10,000 words as your search query (i.e.
> whole articles, papers, book chapters)
>
> Epi-search then runs a “find more like this search” to recommend books
> from the 5000 volume ISCE.edu library shows you how and why the results
> shown were recommended AND provides links to “good” related searches from 9
> academic databases including:
>
> Google Scholar related academic results
> PhilPaper related philosophy results
> MIT CogNet related cognitive science results (citations only)
> CiteSeer related academic results
> DeepDyve related articles (abstracts only)
> JSTOR related resources (citations only)
> Taylor and Francis related resources (abstracts only)
> OUP Scholarship Online
> Epi-Search is a conceptual search tool that out performs traditional
> searching algorithms because it is able to make use of concepts that are
> fully expressed in other documents.
>
> Epi-search takes queries of 50 to 10,000 words and performs several
> functions: 1) a “find more like this” search identifies contextually
> related documents from the ISCE.edu library, 2) displays key concepts and
> terms from the query and presents them in word clouds, and 3) transforms
> extracted terms and concepts into “enhanced queries” that are sent directly
> into more than a dozen third-party online databases.
>
> Epi-search can play a key role in research where the use of whole
> paragraphs of text is more effective at finding contextually relevant
> material than the use of simple keywords and tags.
>
> Your students will benefit from knowing about and using this FREE tool.
>
> Use Cases:
>
> 1) Organizing thoughts for further reading
>
> Students can take free form notes and submit them as a whole to
> Epi-Search. The site then recommends further reading material and
> associated concepts and keywords.
>
> 2) Discovering unexpected sources
>
> Students can take their current draft of a paper and use it as a query to
> discover other reference sources which they should be citing.
>
> 3) Exploring related areas of inquiry
>
> Students can take their current draft of notes or a paper and use it as a
> query to discover other materials related to their draft all based on
> “find-more-like-this.”
>
> Epi-Search is like giving each student their own personal reference
> librarian to help them do research.
>
> Eli-Search is a FREE service of the The Institute for the Study of
> Coherence and Emergence.
>
> Try http://epi-search.com and recommend it to your students
>
> They will thank you
>
> Michael Lissack
> Executive Director
> The Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence (ISCE.edu)
> 14 Stratford Rd
> Marblehead MA 01945
> +1 617-710-9565






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