In a new Future of Tech column at NBC News.com, Devin Coldewey previews University of Illinois Press author Matthew Jockers’s forthcoming book Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History (June 2013).

Jockers … has devised a method of comparing thousands of books to one another in order to find systems of influence, schools of thought and other groupings that may not be obvious to literary theorists. He calls it macroanalysis. . . . His system processed thousands of digital books from the 19th- and late 18th centuries — a period chosen because the works are free, plentiful and subject to a wealth of theory already. The books are examined on dozens of measures, from word choice to punctuation to overarching theme. The end result is a unique “book signal” that allows it to be compared to other books and eventually plotted in a sort of similarity space, where closely related books are near one another, and differing books are distant.

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