Cultural data analysts often adapt biological analogies to describe their work. Mr. Jockers, for example, called his research presentation “Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome.”
Such biological metaphors seem apt, because much of the research is a quantitative examination of words. Just as genes are the fundamental building blocks of biology, words are the raw material of ideas.
A new study, by researchers at the University of Missouri, showed that the most important factor that predicted math success in middle school and upward was an understanding of what numbers are before entering the first grade. Having “number system knowledge” in kindergarten or earlier — grasping that a numeral represents a quantity, and understanding the relationships among numbers — was a more important factor in math success by seventh grade than intelligence, race or income.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, book production went into overdrive, while newspapers and advertising were inventing new ways to use words to jostle urban passers-by out of their stupor.
Reminds me of Mallarmé and others style that was far from the rigid, justified columns of newspapers and uniformity of mass market books.