Hanif Kureishi

(Reprinted with permission from the British Library.)

The works of screenwriter and novelist Hanif Kureishi infamously deal with the intersecting topics of race, class, religion, and music in the UK, including chronicling the rise of radical Islam in British youth.

The British Library’s acquisition of Kureishi’s archives in 2014 marked an important opportunity to use digital forensics for appraisal and textual analysis. From fuzzy hashing and capture to metadata extraction and analysis, tools from the BitCurator environment aided the Library in its work.

As an example of the opportunities digital archives provide, Jeremy John described in 2014: “One of the most exciting aspects of the archive is a set of 53 drafts of Hanif Kureishi’s novel Something To Tell You, which we decided to explore as an example for the workshop.

We used the sdhash tool (produced by Vassil Roussev of the University of New Orleans and incorporated within the BitCurator framework). Like the ssdeep fuzzy hashing tool (which has been incorporated into Forensic Toolkit, FTK), it identifies similarities among files but uses a distinct approach.

With BitCurator it is possible to direct sdhash at a set of files and ask the tool to first create the similarity digests and then to make pairwise comparisons across the similarity digests for all files, with each pair of files being assigned a similarity digest score."