Computer reading can feel like a Faustian bargain. Sure, we can learn about linguistic patterns in literary texts, but it comes at the expense of their richness. At bottom, the computer simply doesn't know what or how words mean. Instead, it merely recognizes strings of characters and tallies them. Statistical models then try to identify relationships among the tallies. How could this begin to capture anything like irony or affect or subjectivity that we take as our entry point to interpretive study?
Category: Teddy Roland
One of the hardest questions we can pose to a computer is asking what a human-language text is about. Given an article, what are its keywords or subjects? What are some other texts on the same subjects? For us as human readers, these kinds of tasks may seem inseparable from the very act of reading: we direct our attention over a sequence of words in order to connect them to one another syntactically and interpret their semantic meanings. Reading a text, for us, is a process of unfolding its subject matter.