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.

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