Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools is a web-based text reading and analysis environment. It is a scholarly project that is designed to facilitate reading and interpretive practices for digital humanities students and scholars as well as for the general public.

At first glance, it is unclear what this research tool is, how to use it, and what to take from it.

Voyant Site Home Page

After confusingly typing a word into the text box and clicking reveal, I found myself even more at sea by all of the analysis available if the site is used properly. The “Help” button is represented by a questions mark link that will redirect you to another overwhelming page of information seen below (Just look at all of those files to sift through). Any new user to this tool will undoubtedly need to spend some time navigating the site and learning all the potential text analysis available. The site is not particularly pleasing to the eye (Though I am not tech savvy so take what I say with a grain of salt).

Although, once the user inputs a URL into the initial text box (the way I should’ve started), a flurry of text analysis and data is immediately available. I copied and pasted the URL to the Wikipedia page on the P-51 Mustang as an example. Here you can view the frequency of key words in the text in the form of a word cloud, in graphs displaying in which parts of the text the word appears most, and a flurry of other available data with multiple ways of viewing that data.

Again, to really understand how to properly use this tool to its full potential, you’ll have to spend a bit of time reading through the descriptions of each option available to understand how to apply this site towards your research. Thankfully, the “Help” page is thorough and any information you may need can be easily accessed.

Researches may be interested in creating a “corpus”, which is a set of documents or URLs analyzed together. The tool is meant for humanities scholars to quickly analyze several texts by revealing trends, similarities, and distinctions. Hopefully, it will direct the scholar to ask questions of what the analysis can tell you, but its primary function is to be used as a tool for exploration and to assist with interpretative practices. The digitalization of history will save scholars time combing through countless texts and sitting in archives or libraries with a stack of books. The tool can also be used in different languages so it is not limited to just English. According to the tutorial and workshop page, an extensive workshop on how to use this tool can take an entire day signifying how complex accurately using this tool really is.

I believe there is a bit of irony in the digitalization of history as I chose to study humanities because the STEM field was always my weakest subject, and yet, I am again trading hardback books for digital tools. Despite my best efforts, technology is working its way back into my studies!

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