Voyant Tools

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that our class would be using the Voyant web app.  I have used the web app last year in IASC 2P02 Solving Problems Through Interactive Arts and Science, and during my time using the tool I found it interesting to experiment with and discover interesting qualitative data. What I really liked about the Voyant was how I could use a variety of its tools to visualize relationships between different words and phrases within a select text. These visualizations make digesting the analysed data much easier.

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Voyant Analysis of Beowulf  in Old English

When it comes to using Voyant and similar tools to analyse texts in large bodies for Historical research, I believe they do more help than harm. Sure, there are a variety of pitfalls that come with an analysis tool like Voyant. Some of the analysis data discovered through Voyant could be taken out of context, which may result in a user drawing false conclusions. With that said, this can be avoided simply by being conscious of what you discover from the tool and not to rely on the tool heavily. Furthermore, I found while using Voyant that there is often the problem of having some words like “the” or surnames pollute the most numerous words in a text. Unfortunate there is no way to filter out these words. What would be even more ideal would be if one could filter through types of words, this could give greatly help a user find data which could demonstrate an author’s writing style. What Voyant can be strong at is studying language of the past. Voyant can analyse text of a vast number of languages if the letters of a language are digitized.  Therefore, Voyant can examine dead languages and can give researchers greater insight on how that language was spoken and written. In addition, Voyant gives historians the ability to draw information to massive documents in a fraction of the time. Where once historians were required to read a 2000-page text page by page, Voyant provides a new way to consume historical texts.

Although its not perfect, Voyant is a tool that demonstrates how important the digital history is and the potential future text analysis tools have.

Blog Post 4

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Voyant tools is a free, online software which allows researchers to analyze large quantities of text from one or multiple sources to quickly draw information from trends involving things like word count, word usage, and various patters that appear within one or more texts. This is useful for researchers who need to search through hundreds or thousands of pages of material and quickly sort through the documents to find information quickly and efficiently while also being able to determine patterns throughout the writings. Rather than looking at the fine details of a written document, the intention of Voyant is to provide a big picture look at the text in a way that otherwise would not be available. Voyant uses a series of graphs, charts, and lists to rank, sort, and outline specific words within the text. A historian will be able to look at some of the works of Shakespeare for example and find that throughout his writings are criticisms of the church and royal family. A historian can also take seemingly unrelated texts and find common themes or ideas shared between them. Another example for a use of Voyant would be to compare the speeches of different political candidates or representatives and determine how different politicians had similar or different views depending on their party affiliation.

 

Voyant does have some downsides however. The tool is used to provide a large scale picture of the overall ideas of a text but cannot show detailed context behind the use and meanings of these words. While a researcher can see that two compared articles might use the similar words throughout, Voyant does not provide context to how these words are used. Two texts that talk about a similar subject will show to have the same overall themes but may be using a certain word to have a different meaning or perhaps the articles are using the same words but have differing opinions surrounding them. Overall Voyant is a useful tool to sort through large amounts of text in a short amount of time to view overall themes and important subjects within a text but should not be used as a replacement for more detailed and in depth research tools.

Blog Post #4

Voyant Tools is a digital text analysis that helps historians quickly analyze large bodies of paragraphs to find specific word structures or phrases. This tool can help generate a quick and easy use of finding anything related to the text, from finding consistent words or patterns. Voyant tools is a great tool for all historians because it enhances the reading through different analysis methods like frequency lists, frequency distribution plots and KWIC displays. Not only does this tool help historians, but also other users such as teachers, who would want to analyze poetry or paragraphs that are needed for teaching purposes, so they can find patterns quickly, compared to them actually reading through it. This engine is something that can be found through actual reading and analysis of a paragraph, however this tool enables us to quickly find patterns. The efficiency of finding this information quickly is a huge advantage for anyone who needs to find quick analysis and not spending a lot of time actually going through the text. Reading skills have been enhanced throughout the years, as everyone once they attend school, begin to understand, write and learn paragraph analysis. This tool takes all those skills and computes that information in a matter of seconds. Now users wont be using these skills due to the huge advantage of finding the information in seconds compared to hours of analyzing paragraphs. Voyant tools is a great engine for everyone to use, from historians to teachers to even us students, to find quick analysis of texts. voyant

Blog #4

 

Voyant tools is an application that is web-based and used for performing text analysis. it is made up of scholarly readings and different kinds interpreted texts that are available to students, teachers, and the general public. It can also be used to analyze and enhance online texts. It is useful because it picks up different trends and readings. Google analytics is used to find the information that is supplied to the user. Its main purpose, however, is for scholarly use and analysis on different documents. It is also useful in the sense that it can point out the important parts of a document and help the user stay focused on what matters in a text, such as a theme.  This can be a very helpful tool for historians because it can help them find the patterns located in readings that they may be analyzing. As much as this may be a very helpful tool, it is not one that can be relied on solely because a lot of research and importance would be left out. When it comes to small sources Voyant tools may not be helpful because it tries to look for repetition amongst a given text in order to point out the main theme and with little being mentioned it could miss important factors within a reading. However, it does not provide the reader with new information, just an easier way to spot patterns amongst what is being read. The Voyant tool is helpful mainly to historians because it helps speed up the process in research and may make things easier to understand. Personally, sometimes when I read historical documents I feel lost and can’t always figure out the purpose of a paper. The Voyant tool would be very helpful for me because it is easy to miss a point when trying to stay focused on a document and it lets you know what is most important. For some people looking for an easy way out of reading a document, Voyant could be a problem and can be used as an excuse to not read something. This is not good because it will not provide enough information to give a proper analyzation.

Blog #4: Voyant Tools

Voyant tools allows users to work with their own texts or existing texts to perform basic text mining functions. You can discover themes and quickly extract characteristics. It is also a web-based that reads and analyzes texts in a variety of formats including: Plain text, HTML, XML, MS WORD, RTF, and PDF.  Voyant Tools is also a free site which can be used in many ways. It provides visuals like graphs, scatterplots, concept maps for the user to better understand what the information provided is saying.

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The ability to quickly analyze pattern in large bodies can hinder historical analysis. This is because although there are many historians that can access the tool, it’s the type of historian that matters. If a lazy historian was to access the website and have enough information presented before them they would make broad statements about the text. In fact, it is more likely they would have never read the text or dig deeper into the tools provided by Voyant. Also, they may have limited understanding of the actual text as little thinking was present. Not only a lazy historian be a problem but Voyant tool can also limit the perspective of the deeper reading by the historian. For example, if a text was run through Voyant tools, under cirrus, most common words show up. The words that are larger occur more frequently. This gives the historian an insight into the main focus of this text, however, it could also limit the historian to just looking for these topics.  Essentially it could blindfold the historian to look only for specific things, while other aspects of the text could be just as important. While you’d think Voyant Tools provides the basic understanding of the source, the traditional method of reading primary sources is best for understanding the content/intent of the source. This is because voyant provides broad assumptions about the text and provides little information as it does not contain full details as a primary source would have.

Although there are some negative aspects to using Voyant Tools for historians, there are things we cannot access elsewhere. Voyant Tools is very simple to use and efficient for quick research, and it helps to get a basic understanding between the connection between text in order to take it further. Many historians would spend much of their time “sorting” and this digital program helps it make it easier. Therefore, Voyant tool is simply a tool, and without the purposeful effort of the person examining the piece of text, the information Voyant tool gives is broad.

Meaning and Analysis: Text Analysis Tools Use in Historical Examination

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The use of Voyant Tools to analyze bodies of text is an amazing development in digital history, but it may actually ask more questions than it answers. These tools quantify and analyze the incidence of words, relationships of phrases and give some idea of the construction of the documents being examined. They can produce some interesting visual representation of the use of words, and allow comparison of different documents, such as the Cirrus pattern shown above. This pattern is derived from this article.

Such tools do augment the traditional reading skills that historians bring to bear, in that they point out the use of words that wouldn’t be easily apparent otherwise. To the present time, however, understanding of the meaning, the underlying sub-text, or the psychological effect of a document is not possible in a software tool. For instance, the tool can identify that a word has occurred more than a dozen times in a document, but it cannot explain why, or what that means.

 

Publicly available, free Voyant Tools are somewhat frustrating to use, because although one can load multiple documents into it, there doesn’t seem to be a way to save them. This means one must continually re-load the corpus if one leaves the tool for any reason. There also does not seem to be a way of automatically comparing the two documents, although you can manually compare the ratio of words to types, average number of words in sentences, and the recurring rate of use of various words.

But what does this mean? The tools will be much more useful to those who have training in the psychology of word use or historical information on how certain words resonate with certain nations, and how juxtaposition of phrases indicates a hidden agenda or sub-text. This kind of training will have to include how words might have been used in the past, and of course documents that have been translated from other languages than English will have to be analyzed differently too.

These tools also can’t analyze the intent of the writer. If a high emphasis is placed on one word or phrase, we cannot know why the writer chose to use that word or phrase so often. Of course, a historian reading the same word or phrase often in a document can readily understand that it is important to the subject. Was this the writer’s choice, or was it by accident? It would be helpful to be able to analyze words that are used less often, too, and compare usage in many related documents. Will we gain information from the use of Voyant? Absolutely we will. Will the information be relevant? That is uncertain.

Post 4 Ziyang Guo

The Voyant Tools is efficient to find patterns in large amount of texts, its shows frequency of words in matter of seconds. The result can be shown in a chart to be easily understand. However, I for one disagree it is a useful tool for historians analyze. First, computer language dose not understand or process human emotion, a sentence can be full of sadness, humor, sarcasm and anger that are also critical to the thesis statement. Theses emotions can make part of the article more important than the rest without showing keywords in high frequency. The only way to read the book with full understanding to the authors idea is doing it the old way, page by page, line by line. I doubt any useful insight can be made simply relying on Voyant tools, the only way thing I believe it will find is a style of writing, vocabulary preference, grammar preference. This can be useful for review purpose, such as newspaper editor, journalist, novelist and professors. The Voyant tool can show things they miss, or find problems they did not know. Such as the over focus on none central topic, the unbalanced of sections. These are the benefit that Voyant tools bring us, it still cannot read a book for us, but it’s a great assistance to us, we can have a rough idea of what the book is about in a very short time, we can then decide if this book is useful or related to our research. This new approach can save us tremendous time, especially for primary source that are hundred to thousand page long, with no abstract or blurry abstract, this tool will be a highly efficient short cut. Technology such as Voyant tool is start to show what technology can do for historians, its possible that in the soon future, computer program can summarize a whole book in second, analyze its references in second, or even question the weakness of the thesis statement. There are much more to expect.

Blogpost 4; Text Analysis using Voyant Tools.

The analysis of large bodies of text through the use of digital tools such as Voyant Tools is a new and largely unknown method of analysis to many historians. Integrating technology such as this into historical study would allow researchers to find patterns in their documents that they would have previously never noticed. For example in my own text analysis of two primary sources, the diaries of two men who witnessed the great fire of London, it was clear that references to the titles of other people such as Lord or Sir were the most common words used. Without doing a text analysis I would have never noted that those were used so frequently, as they are easy to ignore in order to get to the narrative of the event being described. Yet, with the text analysis, I was able to note the amount of importance that the men writing placed on the titles of people. If further text analysis was performed on more works of this period and similar repetitions of words were displayed then the results could indicate a larger linguistic pattern of that time and show the importance of titles and social standing to the society of that time and place overall.

Likewise, similar findings could be identified within other historical texts that would add a new context and understanding to the study of that time period. If one knew that titles of individuals were highly important to a society, the omitting of a title for an individual could then indicate a lower standing or show that the author was not in favour of that person.  References to specific places and people can be identified within seconds using Voyant Tools and thus saves the historian large amounts of time searching for specific connections between different words.

If however, the historian relies solely on text analysis tools to find patterns in their sources, they will never accomplish much research at all. Text analysis tools do not provide context to the words of a source and thus cannot tell the reader the importance of a word used at a certain part of a source. Text analysis tools are also not very useful on short sources, as they look for repetition and pattern amongst a text, the meaning of a small text with little repetition may be lost in text analysis when it could be important information.

Text analysis tools are useful to historians as a supplementary tool to research in order to identify important trends in linguistic patterns. Besides identifying trends in text otherwise being studied, I would not recommend text analysis tools to be used by historians. The traditional method of reading primary sources is best for understanding the content of the source and as such text analysis tools should only be used along with in-depth readings of sources to add to the understanding of the text.

Voyant Tools

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Voyant tools is a site that allows people to examine the main contents of various texts. With voyant tools you can see things such as how many times a word is written in the text and various other tools to view  the text look at how words are connected and such. we can see patterns far more easily in the texts we look at so it is helpful for that but this site seems to be rather limited in how much it can actually help with studying a text. although of course historian’s have to do their own work and closely examine texts to get meaning form the existence of the words there and they have to think about it and figure out why those patterns that exist actually exist and if it is just a coincidence or if there is something important behind it. so Voyant tools does do the job it was made for to display important things in large texts but the actual uses of this is rather limited should really only be the starting place for any serious text analysis.

So I would say yes Voyant tools does help as it can be useful in some cases and when not it would just be left unused. but as to whether it gives us something new I would say not really as it does give a new and easier way to spot patterns and connects however it is not something that couldn’t be done by people it would just take far longer to collect the data that Voyant displays in a matter of seconds. As this tools speed up a lot of grind work for historians analyzing the text it does cut out a lot of repeat reading to find those connections but it still requires the reader to go throw the text thoroughly to come up with any meaningful conclusion or argument and thus I don’t think it has negatively affected historians reading skill but simply removed some of t he grind work they were forced to go through in the past.

Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools is a helpful program during the process of text analysis. A process in finding language patterns in large texts that would have regularly taken days can now be completed with the click of a button. Visualizations such as a word-cloud and scatter plots are generated along with frequency counts and various search tools. While it has its benefits, it is important for the users to remember that the analysis provided by Voyant Tools is not the end of the analysis process, but rather a jumping off point.

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When looking at Voyant Tools, it is important to look past the raw data that it has provided. In the analysis of the book Emma by Jane Austen, the word Emma is used a lot. This is not something that is necessarily significant because that is the name of the main character. It would only make sense that her name appear as one of the most frequently used words. However, something that can be noted is that the formal titles of Mr., Mrs., and Miss appear almost as much, if not more than the main character’s name. This can be used to extrapolate that formal titles were far more frequent in the pattern of speech and given names were less significant. This can be used to pursue further analytics in formal patterns of speech if that is the direction that the analyst wishes to take.

This process gives us a simplified way of viewing analytics that were previous done by hand. Visualizing the data has also allowed for connections to be drawn when comparing texts as well. All of the analysis performed could have been done previously, as such nothing new is provided by the analysis, however as mentioned, it has made this process far more accessible to anyone, not just historians, but in the study of linguistics as well. Historians can find great use for Voyant Tools in their study of historical texts, however they must remember that they are performing the true analysis, not the program.