(I’ve been AWOL for a long time now – I’ve been settling in at UW, and between teaching and working on some manuscripts, have found some time to tinker).
A few weeks ago, the Internet Archive announced its newest collection: a massively searchable database of news clips. Each clip has its closed-captioning transcription available for searching, and a thirty-second blurb from it can be played under fair use. A frustrating thing for a postwar historian is how inaccessible TV has traditionally been as a source: costly, no searching function, and time-consuming. As a result, historians have usually fallen back on newspapers and so forth.
Check it out yourself: it’s addictive.
One downside of this collection, however, is that it’s just so big. “Canada” alone pulls up over 47,000 hits since 2009. Computational methods are going to be required. But think of the potential: we could harness the power of TV news during this time, to get a sense of how a given topic came up in the eternal 24-hours news cycle.
What can we do? Read more