Adventures in Digital History

Voyant Tools

In light of our Voyant Tools presentations this week, I wanted to take this space to talk about some of the text analysis tools I found to be most helpful. Since the introduction of these tools was done with Beloved, I decided to use that same text to examine a few of the other tools Voyant offers.

The tool I had to present information on was Cirrus, which is a word cloud that shows the frequency of words in a corpus or document. Despite being the tool I was meant to present, Cirrus is not my favorite tool on Voyant. I have a few that I think are much better than a glorified word cloud, because Cirrus acts more like a gateway into visual text analysis than anything else. If anything, Trends is a much better tool, simply because it is much more visually pleasing and noticeably syncs with other tools in Voyant. I love being able to click on a word in Terms and see adjustments happen in the Reader, Trends, TermsBerry, and Bubblelines tools. I find Terms, Reader, and Trends to go really well together. Being able to have just those three open would immensely satisfy me. Terms is powerful, simply because it shows you which words (or “terms”) show up most often in a document or corpus. That data is then translated into the Reader, which will highlight the terms you select in the text, as well as provide a small graph at the bottom that demonstrates how frequent it shows up over the course of the documents. Trends does pretty much the same thing as the graph in Reader, but goes a little more in-depth with more customization options without the hassle of dealing with the entire corpus. As far as text analysis goes, these are the three tools I would personally use the most. I might even throw in Cirrus to make something more visually appealing, but the data it offers pales in comparison to these three.

The other tools I mentioned, TermsBerry and Bubblelines, are interesting as well. Like all the previously mentioned tools, they are tied visualizing the frequency of words in a document. TermsBerry and Bubblelines look similar in that they both display the frequency of words through the use of circular-shaped bubbles. TermsBerry takes the shape of a, well, (rasp)berry. Bubblelines is more linear, showing the frequency by varying the size of bubbles on a horizontal line. Like with the other tools, you can use the Terms to identify the amount of times a particular word shows up. These are not tools I would really try to use in-depth, but would consider simply because of their visually appealing nature.

There are quite a few other tools on Voyant as well, however I have no had time to explore them in-depth like the ones I have mentioned here. From what I’ve seen, these tools tend to be aimed at exploring the frequency of phrases and terms in a corpus or document. Some are very helpful, while others sort of fall flat. It all depends on how different people perceive things, meaning each of these tools can be used in new and creative ways. I look forward to hearing more about these tools from my classmates next week, and wish everyone luck on their presentations!

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