Another day, another new discovery

I can now say that I have spent a considerable amount of time on WordSeer, and am (finally) beginning to get the hang of it. Although I will stand by my first post and once again state that WordSeer is a simple-to-use tool, it also has its challenges. The main issue that our group has noted is we cannot seem to isolate a single scene within Hamlet, and therefore have had problems when comparing 3.4 to the rest of the play. This has especially presented us with the challenge of integrating 3.4 into our presentation. If there is a simple explanation for this problem—which I am sure there is—I would be forever grateful!

Another feature I have just discovered (although why it took me so long—since this is a word analyzing tool—is a mystery to me), is Read and Annotate. It allows the users to read, highlight, and take notes, within any piece of writing on the site. Some may say, “Why not just use the actual book?” Well, for me, the answer is simple: my handwriting is terrible, and I often spend more time decoding my own words than I take to read the entire play. The Read and Annotate keeps a neat and organized collection of your notes, while allowing you to compare other works at the same time.

Another feature that was just discovered—many thanks to Richelle—is the Newspaper button. This allows you to search a word, hit Newspaper, and have the word appear on the a Heat Map. Super convienant!

These are just a few of the newly discovered aspects of WordSeer, since collaborating as a group and beginning our final presentation. One thing that has been talked about during our group meetings has been the question: Is WordSeer more a qualitative or quantitative tool? After a lengthy discussion on the topic—and a few awkward silences—we came to the conclusion that it involves both aspects. Searching for words and being presented with a list of results is a helpful quantitative tool. We can easily compare word frequencies within Hamlet and compare it to other plays written by Shakespeare. In contrast, WordSeer is also qualitative when receiving results and choosing which words are of importance within the scene. I think this is what makes WordSeer so unique; it provides multiple questions and observations that assist the users in creating hypothesis.

With all of the challenges I have encountered and hours that have been spent on WordSeer, I will say this: I am extremely happy that the entire corpus of Shakespeare is readily available for use, making it all the more faster when searching within a text. For this reason WordSeer is a great tool for future use, especially other Shakespeare courses. Thanks Aditi Muralidharan!

This has been a long week—with many early mornings—but overall I would say the results have been worth it. I have learned so much about WordSeers capabilities and how the tool works. However, my findings have not just been limited to WordSeer, but reading other classmates posts and comments, I have begun to understand more about text analysis tools and the Digital Humanities in general. I am looking forward to the presentations!

9 thoughts on “Another day, another new discovery

  1. Great post Madelyn! I too am feeling A LOT more comfortable with Wordseer – I guess the only way to get to know it is to “play” for a while. At this point, one of the main disadvantages I can see with Wordseer is in isolating a single act. Is this even possible? I think an entire act is too large for a “snippet”, but then also too small for a “category”. Is there is trick to this we just have not figured out yet? Or is this simply a Wordseer limitation?

    I will keep “playing” and let ya know if I come across anything of interest in that regard…


    • I’m really sorry, I never realized that people would need to do this — there really isn’t a way to isolate a single act.

      *sigh*, sorry again.

      How long do you guys have to do this analysis? It may take a few days for me to come up with a solution.

      • Thanks for taking the time to look at blogs and learn more about some of the issues we are having. We really appreciate it!
        As for isolating a single act I think we have figured out a way around this problem as we only have a short time to do the analysis and present our findings.
        Other then that, we have all really found WordSeer extremely useful and insightful as a word analyzing tool!

  2. Madelyn,
    I found this post to be both optimistic and helpful, as a new appeal to word seer has become evident to me from reading this: perhaps word seer has found a way to integrate aspects of both traditional text analysis, and the digital humanities, in allowing for reading and annotation to be performed, saved, and manipulated on a web page, instead of within a book either directly on the page, or with sticky notes(a process which I always found to be tedious and time consuming). Therefore, I am prompted to consider the question: to what extent can both aspects of thorough, personalized traditional text analysis and the efficiency of digital tools be combined into one unified approach aimed at returning insightful data results? This is definitely an advantage exclusive to word seer, and I feel if it were to be mastered, it could be an optimal opportunity to avert those long, painful hours of sitting down at a table, marking up a book. This post has made excellent progress, and I feel with discoveries such as these, we can further determine the advantages to word seer over the other tools used in the course. Well done,

    • I like the way Dane frames this question — “thorough, personalized traditional text analysis” enabled by customizable tools like WordSeer offers.

  3. Interesting! For awhile there I was thinking that Voyeur, my treasured tool, was a program that offered most things — with very few disadvantages. After reading your post I became super interested in the ability to read and annotate using word seer. The amount of notes that i had to make outside of Voyeur was overwhelming. In my last post I even had to use paint to type in pieces of speeches so i could analyze the interactive visual knot! It wasn’t until reading your post that I began to really open my eyes to what more MY tool could offer.

    As a side note, I think you may be able to help me (refer to the link posted below — it is a screen shot from your blog). Those blue lines along the left side also appear on Voyeur. What purpose do they serve for word seer? I am hoping maybe that they serve the same purpose for Voyeur but i cannot quite figure it out.. any ideas?

    – Carly

    • Carly, I think in Voyeur (kinda like in WordSeer) those blue lines are the places where your searched word appears in the text. So (like Madelyn says below) the grey strip represents the whole text; the blue parts show you how often your word appears in it, and where (e.g. clustered toward the middle, or all at the end, or whatever).

      Does that make sense? These interfaces usually break a text into equal-sized ‘chunks’ and then highlight (in blue) the chunks where your chosen word appears.

  4. Thanks for the comment Carly, I appreciate your thoughts!
    I regards to the “blue lines” on the left side of the screen, in WordSeer these lines indicate when a word appears in the text. So for example, I searched “tongue” and the blue lines are where in Hamlet the word “tongue” appears throughout the play. I hope this makes sense and helps out your group!

  5. Great post! That ability to annotate text seems to be a very strong aspect of your tool. I face the same handwriting issues so perhaps this could serve as a useful tool in the future. Thanks for pointing it out

    – Katy

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