[Humanist] 26.86 data mining?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jun 13 22:48:02 CEST 2012

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 86.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2012 15:06:22 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: data mining?

In a forthcoming article in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, the 
author says that,

> By data mining, I mean the activity of fitting a wide variety of
> models to the data in the opportunistic hope of finding one that fits
> well.

How does this definition accord with general usage? Some time ago 
someone (perhaps someone here) made the distinction between two kinds of 
digging: (1) for diamonds and the like, i.e. very careful search for 
precious objects, with the objective of extracting them intact, and (2) 
for iron & similar, i.e. excavating huge quantities of raw ore and dirt, 
then later extracting the desired substance by means of mechanical, 
chemical or thermal processes. The above definition looks like a rather 
different sense, and one for which the metaphor of mining doesn't work 
so well.

I expect that like many terms we use, usage is quite loose. I suspect 
that "data mining" often means no more than searching for stuff, but 
that it sounds robust, industrial, gritty -- and so real, honest, worthy 
of funding etc. Like "knowledge engineering". Instead of a beanie with a 
propeller on top a hard-hat encrusted with processor chips?

But if this forthcoming article has nailed an important meaning of the 
term, then it would be good to have some description of how such
mining is done.


Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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