Voyant Tools Are Cool: Blog Post 4

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. z71

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. 29e

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. cool

*Okay I missed text but I did pretty good. *


HGIS Review: Blog Post #3

The HGIS project that I looked at is the Spatial history project entitled Holocaust Geographies.  There are four main story maps that are within the project. Building the New Order shows land changes between borders in the time period between 1938-1945 in Europe. It is very interesting to see the expansion of Germany followed by the retraction of the German borders. One of the issues of this spatial history project is that it is difficult to tell the changes that the map is attempting to represent. By not clearly showing the expansion it has me feeling like this. Image result for sad old man meme

This map uses the data of historical border expansion and nothing else.Image result for germany flag

Another one of the maps used for the spatial history shows the number of arrests of Italian Jews around the country. It also breaks down how far away from their residence they were, the age breakdown of the people arrested, whether they were male or female, where on the map they were arrested with a circle showing how many were arrested in that area. The map is very interesting to look at and has a lot of statistics that provides valuable information to the understanding of holocaust activity. However, with all the statistics it is difficult to understand what to focus on and what is important. Statistics are important, but perhaps a bit of text breaking down the importance of each statistic in each frame would give a better understanding to the average viewer.  The map also shows whether Jews were arrested by Italian or German officers.

There are also three other main maps that are used to show the spatial history of the time. They are titled The evolution of the SS Concentration Camp System which uses the data of the locations in which Nazi Germany built up facilities around Europe. Another one of the maps shows the mobility of pedestrians around a Budapest Ghetto. It uses the time and foot traffic moving around points of interest to illustrate what life was like in the ghetto. All the maps provided by this Spatial history project provide vital statistics to the understanding of life around the Holocaust and is an excellent project.

Digital Archives Analysis

The digital archives that were assigned to look at in class encompass a wide array of different topics. Each with their own set of limitations as well as benefits. Before getting into what the limitations and benefits it is important to understand what a digital archive is. An archive is a collection of pictures, primary sources and a large number of academic documents that are typically arranged and organized in a manner to display a specific idea or theme about a single topic. A digital archive is exactly that but is offered in an online platform.

Each of these documents offers something different. The archive on German history is very well organized and broken down into different time periods of German history. It contains mainly primary sources, which are broken down further into pictures, documents and maps. Each of these sources is accompanied by a caption of writing that is typically a paragraph or two.  I found that of the archives given the German history archive was the easiest to navigate and had the most easily accessible “useful” information.  If writing an essay on any point of time in German history this archive would become very useful.

All of these archives have their own limitations and benefits though. The first benefit is that all of these archives have a plethora of information organized for one topic on an online platform. For a historian this is very useful because it does not involve going to a bunch of webpages to find bits and pieces of information that can otherwise have been found on the well organized digital archive. The second benefit of these digital archives is that they are available at the touch of a couple of buttons.keyboard To get access to other archives involves travelling to the places that the history is about or the places that the historian did their research. This is truly valuable as I can gather enough information for a project on The Medici family from my own home rather than travelling to Florence because as much as I would like to I cannot. I mean we could do a class trip look at how beautiful it is.florence.jpg The third benefit is that excluding Ancestry.com all of these archives are absolutely free. Any human can appreciate a good deal and having an abundance of information at your fingertips for something that is essentially free is beneficial. money swag cash make it rain buy GIF Again, it beats the cost of travel and time that it would take to get to places. The fourth benefit is that these pages can be quick searched. Having the ability to type in a key phrase or word to gather information in a more efficient manner is helpful to every single historian cutting down time to do research.

There does happen to be limitations. First, just like other archives some of the digital archives have a mass of information that is difficult to navigate. The massiveness of the digital archives like The Medici archive is a deterrent to using this platform. The second limitation is for sites like the German History archive that uses pictures, you cannot feel or touch the picture. You can’t see what it was painted on or printed on which does not allow for the historian to fully grasp the history. The final limitation is that ancestry.ca is not free. Access to that archive costs hard=earned money and this is a dangerous thing for all historians. Historians should be pushing for things to become accessible and more available to the public not charging for them. If it continues on that archives push to create a monetary gain from their services this will become an issue and will be a huge limitation to students and the average citizen who will not put monetary resources to historic research and will most likely pick other alternatives to consume their time.




Get to Know Michael Hunter: A Digital History Introduction

Hi members of HIST 2P26, my name is Michael Hunter and I am interested in digital history for two main reasons. The first reason is that I have a huge passion for history and more specifically well-documented modern histories which makes this course fall directly in my interests. The second reason that I am interested in digital history is due to the timing of the lectures and seminars for this course that allowed me to condense my schedule to only having classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning. I am from Milton which is located in Southern Ontario and contrary to popular belief is no longer a “farm town.” I hope to minor in history but first and foremost I am in second year for Sport Management, however I didn’t come here to be this guy.kyle.jpeg

For those of you that do not know who that man is, it is Kyle Dubas and he attracts a number of students to Brock for the Sport Management program. I like to think of myself as someone different as after I graduate I hope to move on to teacher’s college and become a high school teacher.

Outside of school I am very passionate about sports, hence the program that I am in. My favorite sport is hockey and the team I cheer for is the Devils. Basically I’m this guy.giphy-downsized-large.gif I can talk pretty much any sport and keeping up to date on player moves, transactions, scores and news to do with sports is the only thing I find myself doing outside of class.

I found the introductory chapter in the textbook very interesting. The overarching “promise” of digital history was a revolution for how humankind acquires and store information with the promise of greater: capacity (the ability to store and save more in small spaces,) accessibilty (the ability to have resources at resources more readily available,) flexibility (the abiilty to present information using multimedia,) diversity (giv more people the ability to research and post,) manipulability (the ability to go back and see things that may not have been seen before,) interactivity (having a two-way communication rather than just dictating) and hypertextuality (using more than just text.) These seven characteristics that the web has are the “promises” of the internet that allow the original “promise” of digital history to be close to true.

The “Peril” of digital history is that the information put on the internet would become less valid and trustworthy leaving people less educated than they would be if they used traditional resources for their research and learning. quality, durability, readability, passivity and inaccessibility. These are the “perils” of digital history that make the overarching “peril” come true.

In terms of how I feel about this is that both sides of the argument make valid points, however I feel that the “promises” of digital history far outweigh the “perils.” More capacity and accessibility allows all stakeholders the ability to have more resources before them and at a more efficient rate. The perils just force the stakeholders to become better historians, to read between the lines, to search for bias and ulterior motives and purposes in writing. The capacity allows us to gain a full picture. With the “perils” only forcing people to become better learners and historians and the “promises” making it easier to do so it seems very simple.

Moving forward in this course I am very excited to learn more about digital history and creating my own webpage on a history topic I care about.guy.jpg