Blog #4: Voyant Tools & Digital Text Analysis

This week I had the opportunity to explore Voyant Tools, a free and easy to use online source for digital text analysis. This tool allows users to simply copy and paste text or a URL into a textbox, by which the website transforms into data regarding terms used within the literature. Voyant tools produces data which provides historians with insight as to which patterns emerge among terms. For instance, Voyant tools analysis of digital text produces information on how many times certain terms are used in a body of text as well as links between terms. In addition, the tool allows historians to analyze larger bodies of text way faster while simultaneously comparing it to other texts. However, this tool doesn’t necessarily help historians and should only be used as a starting point in digital text analysis.

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Example of Circus tool on Voyant

Although, Voyant tools has its benefits there are also various downfalls. Due to the fact that this tool provides information regarding patterns of term usage and links between terms, historians may limit their focus to the surface information instead of digging deeper into the literature. This error could, however, be attributed to the user instead of the online text analysis tool as you must be an informed and educated user. In addition, the text analysis tool doesn’t seek to make claims about the subjective meaning of the terms either. Therefore, there is really no deep analysis of the text presented.

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Example of a Graph on Voyant

In conclusion, I believe that the Voyant text analysis tool provides historians with an easy to use site which highlights patterns that emerge within a body of text(s). However, this tool doesn’t provide historians with new information that they couldn’t have accessed otherwise. But, offers its users a quick and basic analysis of text which could be used as a starting point to further their research. In this case, Voyant text analysis tools aids in the traditional forms of historical reading. Allowing users to effortlessly and efficiently recognize patterns within the literature and begin their own thoughtful analysis, rather than the traditional more time consuming method of historical reading.

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