In the fall of 2016, I was a visiting student researcher at CESTA (Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis), the digital humanities hub at Stanford University. During two months I had the opportunity to meet great scholars in my field (in this case people engage in digital text methods), observe the inspirational and collaborative research conducted at the Literary Lab, and every day go and work in CESTA’s creative and open space on the top floor in the Wallenberg Hall (when I was not reading in the beautiful Green Library).
In my PhD project, I use different methods to study the ideas that shaped why and how the Swedish state communicated with the citizens in the 1960s and 1970s and, in particular, how the changing concept of information in post-war western societies configured the idea and use of governmental information. I use, for example, digital quantitative text methods, were I am especially interested in text mining the corpora of Swedish Governmental Official Reports (Statens offentliga utredningar, SOU, 8000 published since 1922–), as a way to study the “voice” of the Swedish state and the governmental discourse of information and media issues.
During my visit at Stanford, I worked on a topic modeling project (with LDA/Mallet) to find co-occurring topics within the SOU corpora, as a way to situate (in my case) the information topic, i.e. the information discourse, in a cluster of interlinked topics and reports. Thus, to better understand the information politics in broader political framework in the context of the report series. Thanks to my supervisor Pelle Snickars, I have the opportunity to collaborate with Roger Mähler at Humlab, who helps me to develop my research from a technical point of view. As a result of my two months work, I presented some findings at a workshop in Vancouver (“How to do things with millions of words?”) and had an open seminar at CESTA in the beginning of November.
As a PhD student (in media and communication) with a digital humanities profile, I am also affiliated with Humlab where I am engaged in with different projects concerning digital text methods. Last but no least, I want to thank Humlab for supporting my visit at Stanford!
// Fredrik Norén