Getting Off on a Bad Foot

Admittedly, my first taste of Voyeur was tainted by it having been the only tool tutorial I had missed out on.  That having been said, I learned what I could from the video and web tutorials available online.  This was an immediate drawback to the tool for me as it all seemed very relative to previous text analysis tools and was presented it in somewhat of a bland fashion. In addition, the online tutorials created an image of an overly complex application of which the payout was not worth its difficulties.  In light of this, it seemed all too unfortunate that Voyeur, irony of ironies, was the tool assigned to me.
Post contract discussion and signing with fabulous Group D, I set about that very evening devoted to Voyeur and determined to unravel its bland mysteries…
As it turned out, Voyeur (formerly known as “Voyant”) has and continues to contribute to my more complete understanding of Hamlet.  Moreover, I was taken off-guard when I realized how entirely mistaken I was by labeling the program as “bland.”  As began to immerse myself into the aid and although it was a bumpy road in trying to understand how to achieve any analytical directives, I found myself enraptured with the endless possibilities of “word trends” and similar word frequency monitors and charts.  In the screenshot provided below, one can easily see how much you can read from the simplicity of searching the word “or.”  Squared off in red is the “segments” option where the user can select the amount of segments in which to stretch or squish the specific “revealed text,” in our case: Hamlet.  I have chosen 5 segments so as to better view my search results within the chart as Hamlet has 5 Acts, the math is pretty straight forward.
Additionally, squared off in blue in the same screenshot below, deeper exploration of the text is at the users fingertips as the “corpus reader” is open directly beside all of the companion exploration tools.  Aside from providing visualizations of the word frequencies, side blue bars of varying strengths guide you to the heaviest densities of your searched word.  Clicking on one of these bars (located to the left of the text) brings you directly to the specific segment in the play and highlights each searched word within the text.  Using the provided example “or,” in the blue square, a perfect example of the juxtaposition of the usage of the word.  Especially with the use of “or,” contrasting words like “heaven” and “hell” are set against each other and provide scrumptious brain-food for thought.  In my case, I was spurred on by this specific search and borrowed many of the opposing words I found and came up with some of my own, to discover what other secrets lie within the play.

When I met with Group D, we Voyeur’s shared our personal findings and experiences with the tool that we had discovered independently.  This added even more intrigue to Voyeur and its flexibility as  members of my group taught me additional pros, among them: it is completely customizable!  Aside from the website of origin, Voyeur has a site that allows users to blend their own skins depending on what you want to play around with or favoured gadgets (such as “bubblelines.”)  In the second screenshot, a simple breakdown of how this works is shown: just drag and drop!

As we’re all still experimenting with Voyeur, not all is uncovered yet.  However, as of yet the pros far out-weigh the cons.  Such cons being the bumpy road to discovery and some text visualizations rely heavily on java script: a highly fallible script reader, this shortcoming falling more so on Java and less on the program Voyant.
The experimentation has been more than entertaining with Voyeur, and as a result has already become my favourite tool, to my pleasant surprise.  Personally, I have a high preference for critical writing and analysis, and so the ability to broaden my own understanding of each play, act and/or scene is boundlessly amusing.  I look forward to discovering more independently and with my group.


2 thoughts on “Getting Off on a Bad Foot

  1. Great post, Nicole. “Scrumptious brain-food for thought” is a memorable description! You’re moving in the right direction.

  2. When comparing our journey to other group’s blog posts, “getting off on a bad foot” doesn’t seem all that bad eh! 🙂
    – Carly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *