Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 25, 2021, 8 a.m. Humanist 34.301 - finding by concordancing? then what?

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 301.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-03-24 06:41:57+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: finding by concordancing?

I collect a great many articles and books in the form of pdfs and try my
best to organise them. But of course different research questions call
for different organisations. Mostly, then, I use native (Spotlight)
indexing on my Mac and Finder to locate items potentially of interest.
The ensuing searches are, however, tedious to conduct. I find myself
wanting a pdf concordancer to give me whatever keyword(s)  in context
together with corresponding filenames and context. The best I've found
so far is Adobe Reader's 'advanced search' facility. Is there anything

This leads me to a bigger question. Who has studied the effects on 
research of what Roy Rosenzweig called "the problem of abundance"? 
He asked of fellow historians, "what would it be like to write history 
when faced by an essentially complete historical record?" (2003) This, 
of course, is not a problem for historians alone but for most if not all 
of us who use online resources. When I was a doctoral student, 
working on Milton's Paradise Lost in its relation to biblical and 
classical traditions, it was assumed that I would read EVERYTHING. 
No one enforced it, because even then it was impossible to satisfy. 
I assume now that we're done with that assumption. But surely 
doing research has changed in some fundamental ways?

Many thanks for suggestions and speculations.

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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