May 26, 2022

Video: “Big and Small Data In The Humanities”, Keynote Presentation by Tim Hitchcock at British Library Labs Symposium 2014

The British Library Labs Symposium 2014 took place last month and yesterday the keynote presentation by Tim Hitchcock, University of Sussex was made available online.

You can find a summary of the talk on the British Library Labs blog. A text transcript of the entire presentation here.

From the Transcript:

…in the rush towards big data – the Longue durée, and automated network analysis; towards a vision of humanist scholarship in which Bayesian probability is as significant as biblical allusion, the most urgent need seems to me to be to find the tools that allow us to do the job of close reading, of all the small data, that goes to make the bigger variety.

One of the great ironies of the moment, is that in the rush to big data – in the rush to encompass the largest scale, we are excluding 99% of the data that is there. And if we are going to build a few macroscopes, I just want to suggest that, along with the the blue marble views, we keep hold of the smallest details. And if we do so, looking ever more closely at the data itself – remembering that close reading can be hugely powerful – humanist will have something to bring to the table, something they do better than any other discipline. They can provide a world of ‘small data’ and more importantly, of meaning, to balance out the global and the universal – to provide counterpoint in the particular, to the ever more banal world of the average.

See Also: Direct to Tim Hithcock’s Bio and Personal Web Site

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.