A search engine capable of detecting information on 20th century reading habits
From the 19th century onwards, the massification of reading, the diversification of practices and, more recently, the digital revolution have made the observation of reading motivations and processes a complicated undertaking. The research field of Book Studies has already made it possible to clearly identify who reads, what and where, since the Renaissance:
"But knowing why and how readers read or read is almost impossible, because reading is a mental activity that cannot be observed directly and leaves only indirect traces, reworked afterwards, such as comments or memories..." explains Brigitte Ouvry-Vial.
A search engine capable of detecting information on the habits of 20th century readers in a multitude of historical sources in several languages, non-digitised and, for some, handwritten, this is the object of the European project Reading Europe Advanced Data Investigation Tool (READ IT), led by researcher Brigitte Ouvry-Vial (3L.AM Laboratory) with a consortium of researchers from five main partner laboratories, including IRISA (spread over four countries: France, England, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic) between 2018 and 2021.
The project aimed to build a database and a search engine, by concept or keyword (and partially based on images), capable of detecting information on the habits of 20th century readers in a multitude of historical sources in several languages, non-digitised and, for some, handwritten. This system, comparable to Google Images, was based on large quantities of archives and the development of an interface for annotating the sources...
This search engine very quickly attracted industrialists looking for tools to better analyse users' perceptions of their products, such as the new releases of a publisher, a perfumer or a music group .... Read the rest of the article on the Plug in Labs website (in french only)