Juxtapose: Digital Tool Review

Sydney Whitton is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.

Introducing: Juxtapose, a digital tool that allows stories to be compared. Taking two pieces of similar media (photos, GIFs), this program highlights “then/now stories that explain slow changes over time”. It also demonstrates “before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events”. This tool has been used to compare stories such as; Floyd Mayweather in 1998 to 2015, tornado damage in Washington, IL, and flood damage in Texas. This tool is also utilized by many photographers to demonstrate before/after views when advertising their presets for editing photos.

How to Use:

Juxtapose is a great tool for anyone telling a story with two parts- the before and after. This is an easy to use program that only requires two similar files that can be placed next to one another.  To start, once visiting https://juxtapose.knightlab.com, is uploading the two files into their designated place, as featured below. After adding the required information, such as the year and source, you can select what information you’d like to be public on the slider. You can also chose the starting slider position and the orientation (vertical/horizontal). You have the option to preview your slide and then to publish it after viewing.                    

I ran into a few issues with this tool. The function of putting in the required information is simple, although I was unable to preview my creation and unable to publish due to this. I suspect that is due to my version of flash player or plug-ins.

Omeka: Digital Tool Review

Sara Scannell is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.

Omeka is a valuable resource for anyone interested in digital humanities — both in terms of creation and consumption. The web-publishing platform allows users to create sites that can display collections, create virtual archives and exhibits, make teaching websites, and more. Creating a free site is fairly easy. To begin, a user will upload their gallery or other digital content. The content will be categorized using the Dublin Core system to universalize the site’s metadata. Once all the content is uploaded, putting all the pieces together into a site is also pretty simple. Creating a gallery or exhibit is as easy as clicking and dragging images into the right place. Users can tag different language in their text so that visitors can more easily find what they are looking for. Conveniently, it is also compatible with other sites like YouTube so that users can use multiple mediums on their projects. For site aesthetics, a number of attractive themes are provided. The rest of the site can be modified through a vast number of plugins that do everything from connecting social media to importing CSV data files. In order to give creators full control of their site, Omeka also includes a feature that allows people to give different levels of permissions to different contributors. This is valuable because it can allow for the public to contribute, but prevents the rogue, sometimes unfiltered and incorrect contributions that can dominate sites like Wikipedia. The Omeka forums are a great resource for users with questions, as a number of more experienced users share their expertise regularly. Interestingly, many significant digital humanities projects, like Bracero, use Omeka as a basis for their site. But it is also being used by librarians, archivists, museum curators, teachers and many others. Omeka.org is free and open source for all, although it has some limited functions and is more difficult to make changes to. Omeka.net has the same function but requires the purchase of a plan, with pricing ranging from $35 a year to $1,000 a year.

This video provides a valuable overview if you would like more information.


Soundcite: Digital tool review

Riley Wymer is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.

SoundCite directly links brief audio clips embedded in text that a user can choose, edit, and apply to their website. SoundCite recommends using only a couple seconds from clips, applying this clip sparingly but effectively, and utilizing different parts from the same audio clip to the text.

This site can be accessed by an user and is not limited to scholarly use. You simply copy the link to the audio URL and load it into SoundCite. Then, you select your start and end time as well as the number of plays and what text to which you’d like to link the sound. Soundcite then outputs an embed code that can be pasted where the text would normally go on your webpage. This cannot be used for a simple Microsoft Word doc or PDF.

SoundCite was generated by KnightLab from Northwestern University by their School of Engineering and MEDILL. KnightLab describes themselves as “a team of technologists and journalists working at advancing news media innovation through exploration and experimentation.”

The benefit of SoundCite is that the audio is not isolated media that is linked to or opened separately, but in fact embedded in the text. SoundCite suggests using their technology for essays on music (pulling in the song of discussion), spoken word (incorporating sound effects), or news articles (building environments relating to the topic).

A major drawback to SoundCite is the requirement to include an audio URL rather than a link to a video with audio in which SoundCite could easily strip away the video or even link to a file on your personal computer. SoundCloud has imposed rate limits on usage and will deactivate SoundCloud clips upon overuse; however, SoundCite offers a solution by registering for a SoundCloud API key. This becomes even more frustrating when considering in order to get around the audio URL issue, most people will turn to SoundCloud to upload their audio clips and assign them a URL. SoundCite even admits its users should avoid SoundCloud despite no other “novice-friendly audio hosting services” being available. Google Drive and DropBox will not work either. Their go-around has been to upload media onto WordPress and use that URL.

Steps:

  1. Find an audio clip online you would like to link to text. If the audio does not have a URL already: create a SoundCloud account and upload the audio there.
  2. Copy the audio URL and head to soundcite.knightlab.com
  3. Click the green “Make a Clip” button
  4. Paste the URL into SoundCite’s Step 1
  5. Scroll down and set the clip options to adjust start and end times as well as number of plays and text to link
  6. Scroll down and copy the embed code from SoundCite’s Step 3
  7. Paste the embed code into your website in place of the text to which audio will be linked
  8. If your link deactivates you will need to sign up for a SoundCloud API Key by following the steps listed on SoundCite’s “Attention” blurb

Thing Link: Digital Tool Review

Holly Pyles is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.

My Thinglink Demo:
https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1147018756271112195

Thinglink Inc. is a company whose website provides an annotation tool that elevates any image or video by adding tags with additional details directly onto it. These tagged products can not only be viewed on the Thinglink site, but shared on various social media platforms for consumption by the general public. This use of interactive visualization is a unique and creative way to share information that any person, creating or viewing, can enjoy. It is extremely easy to work and can be used for every discipline, as the image/video you upload and data you compile is limited only by your imagination. The informative tags you add can include anything from audio to video to websites to maps. Don’t feel limited to just images or videos either, as you can also annotate 360º/VR images that make you feel as if you are there. If using Thinglink sounds daunting, don’t fret! They include an optional video tutorial at the beginning of every project.

Anyone can create an account and use Thinglink, but if you choose to upgrade to a paid account, you can have access to additional features, such as a wider range of available icon images to choose from. The Thinglink subscriptions are targeted at business and educational use, as one of the upgraded features is the ability to add students to your Thinglink group. If you are looking to use Thinglink as a teaching tool for the classroom or handy device for your business, I would suggest looking into an upgraded account; however, I used the free version and it provided all of the necessities and more for me to create the project I had envisioned and view other projects for inspiration.

For my project, I used Thinglink to annotate a photo of the Indian Peafowl with additional information about the bird, including an audio file of it’s call and a video of it’s mating dance. This was a great tool for compiling lots of different data about the peacock in one place with an easy-to-use concept and an aesthetically pleasing vision. Thinglink allowed my project to be a one-stop shop about the Indian Peafowl, and it can do this for an unlimited amount of other topics.

While the majority of my experience using Thinglink went smoothly, I did have an issue with the Google Maps feature. It was advertised that you could embed a location on Google Maps into a tag, so that the Google Map fixated on that location would show up when that tag was hovered over. I tried to do this with India on Google Maps, but the embed link did not work and showed up as if I had not entered an real link. Upon googling how to embed a google map on Thinglink, the information I found was outdated and looked as if it had not been updated with the site, so I was unable to use that particular feature. Instead, I used a screenshot of India on Google Maps and wrote my own caption. Other than that one inconvenience, the program was extremely helpful and worked very well. I can say that I have not used another tool like it, which makes it even more valuable. I could definitely see myself using Thinglink again, and I’m excited to explore what else I can create with this tool.

How To:

  1. Register for a Thinglink Account
    1. Register by entering an email address and creating a password. Also, if you are looking for a free option, make sure you choose a teacher account. The student option is also free, but you will need an access code before you can use the site.
  2. Click “Create” to start making your first project.
    1. The “create” button is blue and can be found on your startup profile.
  3. A drop-down menu will let you choose to upload an image, video, 360º/VR image, or import a URL.
    1. In my case, I uploaded an image.
  4. Once the file you chose has uploaded, a Thinglink video tutorial is available in the bottom left corner of the screen if you need additional guidance.
  5. Click anywhere on the image/video to add a tag.
  6. Using the menu on the left, you can change the icon image of the tag.
  7. Enter the url of the website or image you would like to attach to the tag under “Link or image address.”
    1. You can change how the link is formatted on the tag by choosing Small OG, Large OG, Small Image, Large Image, Custom, etc.
    2. If you link something that the program recognizes, like Google Maps or Youtube, the format will have an option that caters to the linked website.
  8. You can then enter custom text that will show up on the tag.
    1. Text may be automatically entered for you when you insert a link, but this can be changed or reformatted in the text box.
  9. You can then change the image that shows up on the tag or add audio that will play when the cursor hovers on the tag by clicking on “Change Image” or “Upload Audio” and uploading an image or audio file.
  10. Other advanced settings are also found on this menu and can be changed or applied, such as “Hide Icon,” “Click Action,” “Font Family,” etc.
    1. These advanced settings are explained on the menu.
  11. Once you have made your tag, click “Save” at the bottom of the menu. The tag will then be on the image/video, and you can continue making tags.
  12. When you are done with your project, add a title at the top and click “Save Image” at the bottom right of the page. The project will then be saved to your profile, where you can edit, share, and much more.

If you need additional guidance, here is the link to a youtube demo.

Voyant: Digital Tool Review

Crystal Lemus is a Digital Humanities student at Belmont University.

Have you ever had to sort through hundreds of pages of endless information from a single source? If so, you may also be familiar with the frustrations that come along with having to do this several times for multiple sources of information. Eventually, all data seems merge together into one giant blur. Everything looks practically indistinguishable, making it difficult for reading alone to recognize patterns in the text. Voyant has kept these issues and frustrations in mind and has revolutionized the way we study bodies of information by introducing ways to visualize text patterns that are new and refreshing to the eyes.

Voyant allows you to generate a word cloud of most frequent words, generate graphs of word frequency across the corpus, and compare multiple documents. Images, like the ones shown below, are generated using this digital tool which allows the user to make comparisons, view similarities within texts, draw connections, and see emerging themes. In short, it allows you to look through multiple sources and get to the heart of the text in a matter of seconds. Best of all, usage of this tool is completely free and can be accessed by anyone with internet access.

My main concerns with Voyant are minor. Initially, I was concerned that when comparing two or more bodies of text, the word count would be skewed due to variations in text body length. One of the advantages of Voyant, however, is that it analyzes relative frequencies, not just raw word counts in order to adjust for imbalances in document length. Another thing that stuck out to me was the fact that all five screens are shown at once which can make it appear intimidating. While I will admit that I did feel overwhelmed when I initially opened the tool, once I started clicking around the different options, it became evident that it was very straightforward and was made to make life easier rather than harder. Digital tool practice makes perfect!

One of the things that I love about this online tool is that it can be used by anyone to analyze information from any field. Not only can this be used by researchers that are trying to understand document collections that are prohibitively large for a close-reading, it can also be enjoyed by those that are working on a small project or simply have a love for words. I would highly recommend Voyant for all of your word processing needs.  

How To Use:

  1. Once on Voyant’s website (https://voyant-tools.org/), copy and paste the URL of the information you are wanting to further process.
  2. If you are uploading a document, make sure that the content of information you are wanting to analyze is in one of the following formats:  HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, MS Word.
  3. You can edit Voyant’s stopword list by opening the option menu, accessible by hovering briefly over the top bar of the tool and then clicking the options icon (looks like a switch) once it appears. This can narrow your search by removing common words such as “a” and “the.”
  4. All five windows on the screen show you different forms of visualizing information about the text:
    • Cirrus, Terms, and Link (Top, Left): Provide a visual representation of the text through a text collage of the most common words, a list of words and how many times they appear in the text, and a network visualization, respectively.
    • Reader, Terms Berry (Top, Middle): The body of text that was inserted (data insert), and a circle diagram of text that highlights associated terms, respectively.
    • Trends, Document Trends (Top, Right):  Both of these show textual trends using frequency rates in different formats.
    • Summary, Documents, Phrases (Bottom, Left): Summary of average number of words per sentence/most frequently used words, shows what document you are currently analyzing (if you are analyzing more than one), and common phrases a selected word is found in.
    • Contexts, Bubblelines, Correlations (Bottom, Right): Find the context of a selected word by seeing what is to the left and to the right of it in the text, chronological overlap of selected words in bubble form as they are found in the text, and correlations between terms, respectively.
  5. Once all information has been gathered, it can be exported by clicking on the square with an arrow coming out of it which is located on the top right of the screen.

StoryMap: A Digital Tool Review

Sarah Travis is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.

StoryMapJS, made by Northwestern University Knight Lab, is a way to tell stories using the location and date of an event. StoryMapJS allows users to make a slide show presentation that moves around a map based on the location of the events it talks about.
Here is the link to the StoryMap I created, click here.

The tool is free to use and is best accessed through a Google account. It is possible to use StoryMapJS without a Google account, but there are some features that are unusable without one. The program utilizes a map and users can search for specific locations by name, address or longitude and latitude. Users can add media to StoryMapJS from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Google Maps, Wikipedia, SoundCloud, and more. StoryMapJS is user friendly and offers examples, tips and tricks, frequently asked questions and how to get help. Your StoryMap can be shared by its unique link and the tool makes it easy to share projects on social media.  StoryMaps are best created and viewed on a laptop or desktop computer but the tool is accessible on your smartphone using the same web address.

I built a story map using an article about the history of the World Wide Web. After selecting a few events to map out, I was able to build my slides by adding where and when the event took place. StoryMapJS was fairly easy to use and if you have used PowerPoint or Prezi you will quickly get the hang of StoryMapJS. The more time you spend to explore the features, the more you can add to your presentation. 

One struggle I encountered was that my locations were not very concentrated. The history of the internet is spread across the globe, so my slides jumped around the map. I would recommend to others to use StoryMapJS to explain events that happened in closer proximity to each other. I also found that some of the events I wanted to talk about were not in a specific location, it would be better to tell a story that has a strong location narrative. I would like to use StoryMapJS again in the future with a story that is more focused in one place and has more location specific events.

Basic Steps for Using StoryMapJS

  1. Go to https://storymap.knightlab.com/, select “Make a StoryMap” and login with your Google Account
  1. Create a title slide
  2. Add more slides to your presentation by selecting “Add Slide” along the left side of the page.
  3. Add a location to your slide by searching for its name, address, or latitude and longitude
  • 4. Add images, videos or links to other media by using the media box, here you can also credit the creator and caption your media.
  • 5. Add to each slide a title and description of the event.
  • 6. Adjust the background, font and “marker” for your slide on the right side of the screen.
  • 7. Preview your presentation by selecting “Preview”
  • 8. Use the “options” section along the top of the page to further personalize your StoryMap, adjust the type of map used, the language and size of the map.
  • 9. Use the drop down “Help” section to see more advanced features or look through a support forum.
  • 10. Share your Story Map to social media or via a link provides when clicking “Share” in the top right corner of the page

Another great resource for learning to use StoryMapJS is this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSw3ZO8gDgc

Google’s Ngram Viewer: Digital Tool Review

Madison Manns is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University. 

Ngram is a software system that operates through Google’s search engine—more specifically, through Google Books. The digital tool is sometimes referred to as Google Ngram or Ngram Viewer. Ngram allows users to compare the usage of specific terms in print over a specific amount of time. The user simply inserts the terms they wish to compare and the time period they are evaluating. The system is free to use and easy to find. Simply typing [Ngram] into any search engine will bring up the tool.

The method of use proves intuitive and straightforward. No navigation is required; all functions occur on the same page. The webpage initially shows an example comparing appearances of [Albert Einstein,Sherlock Holmes,Frankenstein] from 1800–2000. The digital tool searches all Google Books and compiles the date into a graph, with differently colored lines representing each term. The y-axis refers to the number of time the name is mentioned; the x-axis refers to the year mentioned.

The tool has a few additional features that increase the tool’s relevance and possible uses. The first option involves the back-end aspect of website design: on the upper right corner of the page, Google provides the HTML that would enable a user to embed this chart or system in their own website—completely free. Second—and perhaps more useful for those of us who aren’t too savvy with computer code—the web page provides sources for its chart at the bottom of the page. Lists of timeframes and search terms link to the Google Books from which information was drawn. Additionally, page numbers appear above many of these books when the link is selected, cutting down on the time required for sifting through each book.

The system also provides the option to search magazines and newspapers, so for a user who isn’t bound by academic source restrictions, the tool can provide a general comparison of cultural and social concern about the searched terms. This tool can be incredibly useful for researchers, as it provides sources that can clear up ambiguities between whether the world’s fair should be written as [World’s Fair], [the world’s fair], or [the World’s Fair]. By showing which sources say which term, a user could glean that [world’s fair] is used more often by historians, but that authors writing about architecture use [the World’s Fair]. This verification can help editors, students, sociologists, the creators of web content, and other digital humanities scholars check the sources of minute formatting discrepancies or track popular terms and subjects over a given era.

How to Use:

  1. Find Ngram through your search engine of choice, or use this hyperlink: https://books.google.com/ngrams
  2. Enter your search terms into the boxes at the top of the page:

3. View the resulting chart.

4. To find the HTML to embed this program, select [Embed Chart] at the top of the page:

5. To access the data year by year or term by term, see the bottom of the page.

Madison Manns is a student in Digital Humanities at Belmont University.