In this talk I want to look at some changes in the language of belonging in Australia, focusing on two words, ‘aliens’ and ‘immigrants’.
I’m not going to present a detailed argument, nor am I going to offer a very sophisticated analysis. I’m mostly just counting words and pointing to interesting things. But I suppose even simple techniques can be pretty remarkable when they’re applied across large historical collections.
I also want to think about how we get the texts to the tools. I spend a lot of time hacking at the plumbing of digital collections — making connections, and unclogging pipes — trying to get the data to flow. While institutions digitise terabytes of text it’s often still a struggle to get the data out in a form that can be easily used and shared. Stories about moving data around are not very glamorous, but they’re important in understanding the limits of our infrastructures.