Tag Archives: Voyant

HIST689 Project Proposal

I am still unable to speak with specificity about my final project because it involves working with other teachers in other disciplines and those meetings are scheduled for next week. However, I do plan to create two projects with a Latin teacher that overlap with history. The first is a project that involves ORBIS and also makes use of several historical primary sources including Diocletian’s Price Edict. This project will be designed with an interdisciplinary focus that includes economics, Latin, and history. The second project involves the use of open-source programs such as Voyant, Knot, and Palladio.

The other group I am working with includes US History teachers (both AP and non-AP), English literature teachers, and AP English language teachers. I also envision designing a project with them that use Voyant, Knot, and Palladio using primary sources that service both disciplines. However, I would also like to create a crowdsourcing project, perhaps using oral interviews uploaded and marked using the University of Kentucky’s OHMS database. The details of this project should emerge more next week.

1. How will digital media and/or digital tools be important to teaching my target audience one of the essential lessons I’ll be focusing on in my project?

All of these projects will involve students as both consumers and producers in terms of digital media and digital tools.

2. What, specifically, about the digital environment will influence what you do and why?

I intend to use the digital environment to give create student-teacher learning whereby there are general outcomes but the mode, manner, and method will be shaped by a process of discovery. I would like to follow both Wineburg and Caldor’s models of empathy and uncoverage. I will also need to make sure that the digital tools used in these projects enhance and enrich the curriculum rather than diminishing or detracting from it.

Visual Tools: Voyant, CartoDB, and Palladio

New web-based, open source technology has dramatically shifted the landscape of digital humanities. It has affected fields related to  digital humanities in two significant ways. For institutions and digital humanists a new quest to create, build, and host project sites has emerged. These digital projects allow users to interact and manipulate data in specific ways that yield almost infinite combinations. For users, these digital projects have laid the groundwork for moving research beyond the archive and to digest and draw conclusions based on datasets and information expressed through new macro-based visuals. The projects/programs reviewed here focus on textual analysis, geospatial mapping, and visual graphing based on large sets of metadata and archival information.

Voyant
Strength/Weakness: The strength of Voyant is the range of text analysis provided: cirrus, networks, graphs, context, verbal patterns. This is also its weakness. At first glance it’s very impressive but when trying to set or manipulate certain features available to the user for the purposes of customization or multiple datasets, the program does not function well.
Similarity/Difference: Voyant is similar to CartoDB and Palladio in that they are all free open-source, web-based programs. Voyant and Palladio do not require usernames or passwords. Voyant is different from CartoDB because CartoDB does require a sign-up. Voyant is different from Palladio because Voyant has one main screen with several visual fields, while Palladio only focuses on one type of visual analysis at a time, i.e. maps or graphs.
Complement: Voyant provides sophisticated text analysis and CartoDB provides sophisticated geographical analysis. Paired together, they provide unbelievably rich yet simple ways to “see” data relationships. Palladio and Voyant complement one another because they allow users to layer and filter the same data to produce different types of word graphs, clouds, and networks.

CartoDB
Strength/Weakness: The strength of CartoDB is the visual clarity and graphic options for its maps. The program’s weakness is that it really only serves to create maps and not graphs or other visual organizers. As a side note, this could just as easily be a strength because it does one thing well.
Similarity/Difference: CartoDB is similar to Palladio in that it focuses on one type of visualization, which it does very well. It is different in that its foci are  maps=CartoDB and graphs=Palladio. CartoDB is similar to Voyant on a basic level; they both produce visual graphic representations of the relationships within a large set of data. They are different because Voyant attempts to do many things (but not geospatial mapping), while CartoDB focuses on geography and not text.
Complement: CartoDB and Voyant complement each other well for the same reasons that they differ (above). Voyant does what CartoDB does not and vice versa, so together they provide an even more comprehensive picture of patterns that can be draw from data. Palladio and CartoDB complement one another because each does a different thing well. I would be tempted to use these two rather than Voyant because they are both user friendly.

Palladio
Strength/Weakness: The strength of Palladio is its relatively easy interface and the ability to drag and organize nodes and lines. The weakness of Palladio is the inability to save projects in formats other than svg or json, and that beyond the visual graphing network there is no additional information.
Similarity/Difference: It is similar to CartoDB in that it does have a map function, but Palladio is different because the most effective feature is visual network graphs. Palladio is similar to Voyant in that they both have word links and network features. They are different because Voyant is difficult to use (because of glitches not design), while Palladio is much easier to use.
Complement: Palladio complements Voyant by providing more options for word clouds and visual networks. Palladio provides a complement for CartoDB as they are both based on layering datasets manually with selecting different modes and filters.

As these open-source programs continued to “hone their skills” and “work out the kinks,”  they will no doubt provide continued and enhanced methods of data analysis that can be customized for and by individual interests.

Voyant Reflection

This module about data and text mining and analysis is not only relevant but timely.  Just yesterday as I was working with Voyant and exploring data projects such as “Robots Reading Vogue,” I saw this in my news feed. This Bloomberg article provides a visual representation of this year’s presidential debate with word analyses based on big data:
http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-10-19/what-debate-transcripts-reveal-about-trump-and-clinton-s-final-war-of-words?bpolANews=true


I think Voyant is one of the coolest and most useful tools I’ve ever used. That said, the web-version is very glitchy. Attempting to get key words to show for different states and to export the correct link that matched the correct visual took over four hours. Also if I stepped away from my computer for any length of time, I had to start over with stop words, filters, etc. In order to get the desired export visual links, I found it easier to reload individual documents (for states) into Voyant, and I hope the activity links I entered do in fact represent the differentiation I was seeking as I followed the activity directions. I would not use this with my students until I could work out the kinks and had fully tested the documents to be used in class. As an educator, I know all too well from experience that if something can go wrong with software or web-based applications when working with students, it usually does. That said, I have downloaded a version of it to my computer and hope this will make Voyant more user-friendly and maximize utility for data analysis.

Despite technical difficulties, this tool (Voyant) allows users to mine and assess enormous amounts of data in many different ways. To have such a tool is an incredible gift for both teachers and students. You can visualize word usage with word clouds, links to other words, graphically chart the use of key words across a corpus or within a document, view and connect word use within context and within a range from 10 words to full-text.

New users should:

  1. Open http://voyant-tools.org/
  2. Paste url text or upload document and generate text data
  3. Manipulate “stop words” to appropriately cull key words
  4. Compare/contrast key words in different documents as well as across the entire corpus
  5. Study and analyze key words using word cirrus, trends, reader, summary, and contexts
  6. Draw conclusions

Trends: Frequency of “Mother” in Georgia WPA Slave Narratives
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Trends: Frequency of “Mother” in North Carolina WPA Slave Narratives