DocumentCloud: “Floating” through the search for primary sources

Time is of the essence when it comes to being the first to report breaking news. What if there was something that could search your documents, analyze the content, and allow you to highlight and comment on important passages? DocumentCloud provides a searchable database of scanned public documents to make the process for anyone reporting on or searching for primary sources easier. While it is only in its beta form and relevant to mostly journalists (most documents are from newspapers), there appears to be hope for later development as an additional academic or historical audience.

In its database, users of DocumentCloud can search through thousands of uploaded documents (mainly from newspapers and news reporting agencies) or upload their own. While searching the full content of the documents, DocumentCloud also attempts to identify people, organizations and places and add date references to a timeline (which can then be searched by the user). A unique feature of DocumentCloud is the ability to highlight and annotate documents. Journalists can added a highlighted box to specific passages and then below the text add their own commentary. Once they have finished analyzing and highlighting/annotating, they are ready to upload to the catalog to help a fellow researcher find more information.

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