Voyant tools and digital text analysis programs are suites that allow users to quickly breakdown important components of a piece of text like how many words are in the average sentence, the most common word in a piece of a text, the words that follow that word in sentences most often, where the words are located in each text and their frequency based on the timeline of the text, plus many more things. It provides visuals like graphs, scatterplots, and concept maps for the user to better understand what the information provided by the suite is saying. With all that Voyant can do one might wonder, how the syllabus might have the question “Does the ability to quickly analyze patterns in large bodies of text help or hinder historical analysis?” The question is one worth asking because what do all these tools actually do to allow us to understand history better?
For me personally, the question can be answered like most queries throughout life, that itis not black and white and comes down to a number of factors. The main factor is the type of historian that is using the suite of tools. Voyant can hinder historical analysis if the historian using it is lazy. The tools have the ability to quickly turn a large amount of text into quick facts about the text. The hindering of analysis comes into play here because if a historian does not use the tools correctly they still have enough information presented before them to make broad statements about the text was analyzed. They would never have to read the text, they would never have to dig deeper into the tools provided by Voyant, and they could do very little thinking to make statements about the past that were easily quantified by the tools but have a limited understanding for the actual piece of text. This is why Voyant can hinder historical analysis, however if you look at the average hardworking historian Voyant is quite helpful historical analysis. So don’t be this guy.
If a historian takes the time to read a piece of text prior to running it through Voyant and analyze and make assumptions about it, Voyant will be helpful in clarifying and confirming analysis and assumptions. On top of this new understandings can be provided to historians from Voyant by seeing relationships between words that may not have been picked up on when first reading it. Basically, if a historian takes some time to use the suite effectively and does not just use the original data displayed by Voyant it can be a very helpful tool to historical analysis. So then you can be this young lad.
Yes, Voyant provides the ability to produce visuals of commonly used words that illustrate relationships in the text quickly that would take hours of time to do manually. The quantified data provided by Voyant for large amounts of text would also be very tedious to create manually. It is not that Voyant does something that the average human could not do, it just makes things infinitely quicker and allows us to dig deeper into the text because time can be saved.
Voyant allows historians to see trends in text that may never have seen before unless they were specifically being looked for. It does allow for the ability to quickly search through a text for keywords that makes reading portions of the text easier than reading a whole 50 page paper. Very important side not, I bet if I ran this through Voyant that my most commonly used words would be Tools, Voyant, the, historian and analysis. *This was a prediction lets see how I did.
*Okay I missed text but I did pretty good. *