- Introduction to “Learning to Read Data”
The article by Ryan Heuser and Long Le-Khac is one of the first products of the Stanford Literary Lab launched in the fall of 2010 by Matt Jockers and me. The idea is simple: the Lab as a small, flexible structure capable of the new type of work made possible by digital archives and tools. Collective work, first of all; just like this article, designed and written by two people, and often discussed in group meetings—around the conference table, which turns out to be as crucial an instrument of lab life as any machine—at various stages of its elaboration. Second, instead of presenting only the results of our research, we try to document the process behind it: the hypotheses and the testing, the alternatives, choices, breakthroughs, disappointments. In other words, we try to follow an experimental approach to knowledge: a literary study that learns to design good questions for the history of culture, and to understand its answers. Learning to read data, indeed . . . [End Page 78]
Franco Moretti (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University and the co-founder of the Stanford Literary Lab. His books include Signs Taken for Wonders, Atlas of the European Novel, and Graphs, Maps, Trees.