Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools is a useful online tool that picks up different trends in texts. The program uses Google analytics in order to find this information and promptly supplies it to the user. There are a lot of benefits to this program, however it also has draw-backs. I definitely believe that this program was made for scholarly use and analysis as that is the main point. It can be used for many different things in analyzing texts.

The positive thing about this tools is that it can be very beneficial in picking out some things that are important. The frequency with which things are discussed in the text can be critical to the message that comes from the piece. It can be helpful in finding central themes or important people that need to be discussed.

Another good thing about this tool is that there are many different ways to analyze. There are visual ways such as the word collage and the “Termsberry”, however there are also charts and graphs. In EDUC 1F95 we studied how important it is that different learning styles have the ability to grasp things. This is very useful in doing so because it provides the same information in a plethora of ways after such a short period of time waiting for analysis to be complete.

The main drawback I can see through this tool is using it with too much focus. Although it can be very helpful in creating an analysis, I personally would find myself trying too hard to make sense of the wording and frequency with which they are used. While this could be important, it is also important to know what the text is saying in context. For example, when we looked at Shakespeare’s Macbeth in class, the most frequently used word was “Macbeth”. That doesn’t tell us much about the text as it is a play that would obviously state his name with each line.

I think that this would be a more accurate tool to use for poetry or English studies. Speaking as an English major, it would be more useful to find thematic importance in these subjects. Historical texts, primarily secondary sources, need to be understood. Language is only a fraction of the importance in these texts.

Screen Shot 2017-11-24 at 11.59.58 AMThis tool augments typical historical reading because it removes that focus. It takes away from the meaning of the text and shows form rather than context. History is very important to consider in context, and not by the number of times Henry VIII Says the word “Protestantism” in an address. While this shows that he may enjoy Protestantism, it doesn’t tell us what he is saying about it. For this reason, I personally don’t think using Voyant Tools would be extremely beneficial in analyzing historical texts, however that is based on the way I have been practicing in my educational career.

In regards to “giving us something new”, I think it definitely does. There is a benefit to this as it can be done much more quickly than if the reader were going through the text to find the frequency, however I don’t think it gives us too much in terms of analyzing sources specifically. Especially, after having to use it as a source of analysis myself. I learned more when I fully read the text a couple times.

“Bomb Sights” Analysis, Blog post #3

While working through the process of finding a topic and creating a digital map, I find it interesting yet difficult to piece together something so important to the history of a place through mapping. It is important to do the even justice in the process. One of these maps that I found through the GeoSpatial Historian was a map showing the different bomb sites from WWII between October 7th, 1940 and June 6th, 1941. The majority of the staffing for this blog comes from the University of Portsmouth. I believe, personally, that this is a very scholarly source. It comes from professionals in the field and was developed with the help of specific Web Developers. It uses information that can be found in other ways, however it simply creates a visual of the information and allows its users to take a closer look at the bombings that occurred.

I personally enjoyed this source a lot. I have always been interested in WWII and what happened in it, ever since I began taking history courses. The fact that it was such a short time ago and that the events were so catastrophic is horrible, however it shows the advancements in society today and what can happen with the wrong leadership. I also enjoyed it because it is a different way of looking at something that is frequently discussed. As I said, I have studied WWII for a few years now, but never have I come across a source like this.

“Bomb Sight” is a not-for-profit website with the intention of increasing the knowledge people have on WWII and using another source, The National Archives (which people do not always have access to), gives further access to more information on this topic.

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This project features a map of the bombing from the “Blitz”. It gives a weekly bomb census as well as the ability to look at strictly the first night of the Blitz alone, where you can see that there were already many bombings and fires. Along with the map, the website lets the user go through an “Explore London” feature. This feature shows you a specific place and the bombings that were done there, as well as how many bombs were dropped at different points in time.

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The project uses original 1940s bomb census map which they georeferenced in order to make a more accurate visual of the event. It is specifically London as this was where it took place. For the project, they use a variety of different data such as Raster maps of aggregate night time bomb census, raster maps of weekly bomb census, bomb locations for aggregate night time bomb census, bomb locations for weekly bomb census, 24 hours of Blitz, Defenses of Britain showing anti-invasion defense locations, Imperial War museum images, BBC history WWII memories, Present day street map titles and present day aerial imagery. With so many different data collections being used, it is easier to see more accuracy in the project.

The project visualizes this data by creating a large interactive map that shows each of the different bomb and fire locations from the Blitz. It is also important to note how useful it can be that different locations can be specifically used through the “Explore London” function. This is something that can be used in a specific assignment if looking for the bombings at a specific time in, maybe, Chatham. This will show then and where the bombs were dropped in one of the alleged most accurate maps of WWII bomb sites online.

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I think this is a very well-put-together source. Through the different explanations of data, it is clear that there was thorough research put into this. Another thing that I found very interesting on the site is that before this map was created, the information was only available in the Reading Room at The National Archives. Therefore, the site makes the information more visible to people and allows for a fair amount of interaction. It is also a good source because there are so many different things the user can do. We can explore specific places, we can explore weekly, the first night of the bombings, and zoom in and out of the map to see what kind of a scale the bombing happened on. The website also features a mobile app, making it easier for users to navigate on the go.

One thing I found very difficult about with this source is how to efficiently use it. It is not very Mac user-friendly. I found it difficult to zoom and try to find a specific location on the map. This map also is not very well sources. The only citation on the page is an example citation of the page itself. For this reason, I would be very hesitant to use it as a reliable source until doing much more research on its accuracy. It also eliminates the human aspect in the story. This is not a source that one could specifically write an essay on as it does not accent the casualties or any other specifics of the bombings, as well it is difficult because you can only focus on a specific point at once. Navigation on the site is very difficult, especially when using a laptop. Since it would be much easier to use on a desktop computer, it makes it harder for people to use that rely on a laptop instead.

Archives

           Online archives are very useful for historians, students, or people that simply take an interest in their content. In class we looked at three different archives that each serve different purposes. They are all very useful however also very limited in their own ways. Archives often hold a plethora of information, as those in the syllabus clearly do, however each archive is very different. These are ancestry.ca, The Darwin Correspondence Project, and the Medici Archive Project.

          Ancestry.ca is probably the most common one on this list that many people know about as it has television commercials informing its population of the uses. This archive has history of births, deaths, marriages, major events, etc., that people can subscribe to. The idea of the site is to pay a monthly fee and add as much personal information about yourself and your family, and the archive will pull “clues” as to your history. This is more of a personal search engine, assisting in finding personal family history. There could be a way that it is useful for historians if they decided to use the website or add to its information pool. The limitations of this, however are that it is costly. There is a monthly fee for personal familial information as well as the fact that we do not know where it is coming from. It pulls from a historical collection that is also prevalent on the website, which can be added to by others as well as new information surfaces. Overall, I don’t think this is a very good archive. Having to pay a monthly fee for your own family’s information seems unfair, however it is out of convenience as there is not much searching to do.

          The Darwin Correspondence project is probably my personal favourite out of the three. This is an archive where people are using the letters and works of Darwin to publish his information and make sense of some of the work he did. This is very useful for historians that are looking to study Darwin in any way, as it provides a fair share of information itself as well as other sources to find more information. It is run by a group of professors and doctors in their field who took an interest in Darwin’s letters, and therefore this can be a reliable source of information. It is very useful to historians in this way, as they can examine the works of their colleague’s specialized fields. There are some things that are missing and the publishers even ask for help in finding them, which would be the only downfall to the site other than its being completely related to Darwin. There isn’t any other information than his which is understandable in a Darwin-related archive.

          The final archive is the Medici Archive project. This is designed to explore the humanities and is a formal archive of such. There is not much to be done except finding out what is it as it is a locked database that requires a login for entry, however it does state that it features over 4 million letters on political, diplomatic, gastronomic, economic, artistic, scientific, military and medical culture. This would be very useful for historians studying in the field as it is a massive collection of primary sources. Unlike the Darwin Correspondence Project, it gives a greater allowance to analyze these primary sources and do one’s own research rather than reading about that done by other historians. This could be a limitation however for someone looking for some sort of analysis.

          Overall these archives have a plethora of historical data that can be useful in different situations. They are all vastly different however similar and very useful in their own individual ways. They help show what digitizing history can do for those in the field of study as well as people that have a desire to learn about history. This can be said whether it is their own history or they want to study someone else’s work. Archives are a very useful tool.

Introductory Post

My name is Allison Snobelen. I’m from Thamesville which most people have never heard of. It’s a tiny little town outside of Chatham, and if you haven’t heard of that either, then it’s about halfway between London and Windsor. I’m a third year student at Brock University, and this year my program is actually a bit different. I was previously in Concurrent Education until now my primary teachable being English and my second being history. I decided to make the change from this program to just general English Language and Literature because I want to explore my different options. If I want, I could apply to teacher’s college at Brock still. If not, I would like to explore the potential of teacher’s college in another country, preferably England.

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Outside of school, my life pretty much consists of work. This past summer, I worked two full time jobs. The first half of the summer I worked in a field planting tomatoes as well as full time at a pizzeria. When the field work was don’t for the season, I finished the summer working full time for a call centre as well as, still, the pizzeria. Now being back to school, I work at two different places. I am working for a pizza place here as well as the Meridian centre. I enjoy to go to concerts and shows as much as I possibly can. Some of the favourites I have been to were Guns n Roses last tour and Motley Crue. I listen to a wide variety of music but I find that rock bands have more of a dominant stage presence and high energy.

I found an interest in digital history only when selecting courses. As I said before, I have been in history courses since first year and thoroughly enjoy it. When I saw that digital history was offered at a course, it seemed to much different from the typical history courses I have taken. I also want to learn about how technology is incorporated into history and how it has changed the society we live in from a historical standpoint. I didn’t know much about it until I decided to take this course, and I think that is why digital history is so interesting to me. Reading the first selection for the course and seeing the different advantages and disadvantages highlights a lot about the importance of the internet in studying history and using technology as a way to help understand the past.

The selection discusses the interactivity of history through technology and using distal media. I found the most important part was to talk about how the internet and publishing historical works can bring light to less influential historians and many different aspects of history. The example of this given in the text was of a retired history teacher that enjoyed putting his work on the web. This is important because it allows readers to see a different perspective and different explanations of things that happened. I find personally that sometimes it can be very difficult to read certain historical secondary sources because they’re very dry, but something else on the same topic could grab my attention. Also, the internet has tools that allow historians to take a look at things they may not have been able to before. There are so many different tools and programs that can do virtually anything on the internet. Using these system to analyze historical documents can bring new information to light that we may have never seen.

The selection also discusses authenticity however. This is probably the main peril of digital history. Something like wikipedia, where anyone can edit the page, is very dangerous. It could give false historical fact that is then used to draw her incorrect conclusions. Questioning authenticity is important for everything on the internet. Vigorous research should be done on any topic being researched on the web as it is something easily edited.

Overall, I am very excited for this course. There is a lot to be learned about digital history and what it has and can do. There are many aspects that I have not thought about that will be helpful not only in university research papers, but future research that could be done as well.