So I was slightly chagrined to discover that a bunch of material that I was interested in for the purpose of constructing my fields list, which I painstakingly located through library databases an archives, and was about to dig through a bunch of microfilm to find, was already available on the internet, in several forms (including on Wikipedia!). However, a lot of it is available in a form that’s not terribly useful to me–being able to track patterns, identify dominant key terms, etc. would be awesome.
However, a key question that continues to be raised in Digital Humanities (which Moretti poses at the beginning of “Maps”), is: when is all of the time and energy it takes to deploy DH methods worth the utility of the results you might get? Is it worth it for me to put a bunch of time and energy building my own text archive of obscure popular fiction just so I can MONK it out–for what will probably never amount to more than a bullet point, maybe a paragraph of a paper or dissertation? Is it worth it for Moretti to spend a bunch of time and energy tinkering with maps, in order to establish a dubious pattern in the living-spaces of French heroes and their objects of desire? What if the perfect circle business hadn’t emerged from his charting of the country walks of Our Village? (And even as pleased as he is with the map, he admits he’s not sure what to do with it yet.)
What is going to have to happen for these tools to become useful in the sense that they actually make our research fuller and easier, as opposed to more cumbersome and resulting in unfortunately thin textual analysis because we have to spend so much time analyzing our methods that we inevitably neglect the texts? (Or, am I missing the point entirely?)