Could WordSeer be the simplest word analyzing program?

After hearing my classmates responses to their word analyzing programs in class the other day, I can honestly say I am lucky to have been assigned to WordSeer. WordSeer is simple to understand and easy to navigate. When we were first asked to watch the demonstration videos posted, I figured WordSeer was just like all the other programs we had looked at. Over the past few weeks I have begun exploring WordSeer; figuring out its capabilities, setbacks, and unique features. One of these features is the visuals it creates with just the click of a button. The “Heat Map” visual creates blocks of colour, each one indicating when a word appears within a text. You can choose which text—in this case Hamlet—you want to specify the search for, or you can choose more general and incorporate all of Shakespeare’s work. For example, in the first Heat Map I have used the word love as described in any relation to the word. Here are the results:

As compared to love in Shakespeare’s “Primarily Love” plays:

A unique function of WordSeer that is not used among the other word analyzing programs—that I am aware of anyway—is the related words function. I am guilty of right clicking in Word documents to find synonyms when I am stuck, and “Related Words” does just that. For example if I searched death throughout Hamlet but did not yield many results, I can click on the word and—similar to a Word document—search for synonyms.

One of the only problems I have encountered with WordSeer is the program is sometimes unresponsive. I have had issues with freezing on the website and computer, and more than once it has stopped working all together. At times nothing will happen when a button is clicked on. The only solution I have found for this problem is switching browsers. Personally, I find Google Chrome works best, although I have heard from other classmates that Firefox is also a good option.

Although I have explored the majority of WordSeer, there are still some features I have not thoroughly looked at. The snippet feature is still a mystery to me and although I have tried creating a snippet it usually just highlights the entire play, the exact opposite of what I intended. Exploring Hamlet as a whole has been quite interesting, and narrowing it down to a single act and scene, will be a nice comparison.

Overall, WordSeer has impressed me with its abilities. I am still new at the whole “Digital Humanities” thing, and computer programs follow closely behind. However, WordSeer has been easy to navigate, and even in one week, it has created new insights into Hamlet that I have not previously encountered. I am still amazed at the fact that WordSeer is able to analyze parts of Shakespeare’s work in seconds; I only wish I had known about it when I was in high school and Shakespeare was like a foreign language to me.

4 thoughts on “Could WordSeer be the simplest word analyzing program?

  1. Great first post, Madelyn. I’d like to learn more about how that ‘Related Words’ function in WordSeer actually works, and what those numbers mean (e.g. after “nearby nouns”).

  2. Great Post!! I agree with you! I think Wordseer could be the most simple text analyzing tool. A question to think about in our next group meeting is where does it stop? What I mean is, is there really a point where you have learned all that Wordseer has to offer? I don’t think so! With the infinite allowance of searches “described as” and “referencing”, I don’t think it would be possible to hit em’ all. The question is which searches and related results are insightful or even useful? Maybe this is something to think about in out next group meeting?!

  3. Hi Madelyn,

    This is Aditi, the developer.

    The “Related Words” features shows words that either:
    A. Appear in similar contexts — that is, words that occur with the same kinds of grammatical relationships as the word you clicked on

    B. Appear “nearby” — currently, this is defined, rather arbitrarily, as word that occur within 10 sentences of any occurrence of the word you clicked on.

    Sorry about WordSeer being unresponsive and slow and buggy. I’m working on it, I really promise. It is my Ph.D. thesis after all 🙂


  4. Wow, WordSeer sounds really great. The visuals look like they’d be really helpful for comparisons, and the “related words” feature seems pretty awesome. I wish there was one in WordHoard- I think it would make finding and formulating searches faster and easier. There’s so many different options to do with WordSeer I can imagine how daunting trying to get aquainted with it would be! But so far your experiments sound positive. I’m interested to see what results you can get with more specific questions. And how the various tools will contribute to each other when exploring a question/aspect.

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