“Your search returned: 1345 results” Um, what?!

By now everyone knows that WordSeer has many useful functions, most of which have to do with word frequencies and finding words within a corpus. Now that we are able to isolate a single scene within Hamlet, my job has become significantly easier. Not only am I able to Read and Annotate one act, but I can apply it to either the Heat Map or Word Tree visual. Very effective!

In this example I used the word Hamlet and just looked at Act Two specifically. The heat map now shows where Hamlet appears in the entire act (in the first column) and scenes one and two (the second and third column).

This nifty little tool has been quite useful when comparing the scenes within the act. It is interesting to note the number of times Hamlet’s name is used within a scene—especially since his character does not even appear in scene one, but his name does.

Continuing on with the usage of Hamlet’s name within Act Two, I decided to take a look at the word tree—which, if you can remember from our Phase One presentation, did not prove to be very useful. Well, it took some time but I can know say I think I may have found a VERY interesting use for it after all. A word tree is automatically generated when a heat map is created and appears below. After typing in Hamlet into the search button and choosing Act Two, I scrolled down and saw this:

Now this may not look like much but let me explain. The word tree takes the word Hamlet and branches off with the most common words that are used before and after. This feature is great for looking at the context for which a word is used and I have found it most useful when using names, for example, Hamlet or Polonius.

Another part of WordSeer I have not written about previously is the collections feature. It is easily used and allows you to save your work in a collection folder—created by you—and keep all of your findings in one place. In terms of Act Two, I have created a folder that I can save all of my search results.

As mentioned in my group members previous blog posts, act two has a main theme of surveillance. When we had our group meeting today, we focused on what each tool could do when given a theme such as surveillance. Using synonyms, we generated a list of words that could be used—in Shakespeare’s vocabulary—to describe surveillance. Some of these words included: knowledge, know, see, spy, and listen. Using WordSeer, I decided to try searching the word knowledge; my results indicated that the word appeared one time. Somewhat helpful.

Next we tried searching know, instead. Our results all came back differently, depending on the tool used: 14, 35, and 26.

Either way, we are definitely making some progress; whether it is a tool suddenly creating somewhat useful graphics (TAPor), or a return result list of over 1345, at this point in our research any result is a positive one.

(I apologize for the ridiculous amount of screen shots in this post.)

5 thoughts on ““Your search returned: 1345 results” Um, what?!

  1. Was your list of synonyms something you and your group came up with, or something one of the tools provided? I’m just wondering because I don’t think I would’ve made the connection of “know” to surveillance, and if it’s a tool, then it would be a great one for me to use with my group member who specializes in it, as WordHoard seems to need synonyms. It seems a little unhelpful that your searches get different search results. Was that from the way you worded them? It’s good to know that there can be different results given if it’s dependent on the wording when searching, just so everyone can be aware of the possibility of discrepancy, I think that observation will help all the groups.

    • Thanks for the comment Allison!
      Yes, our group came up with a list of words that we thought would work well with the theme of surveillance. However, WordSeer is able to generate a list of related words, but only if the first word is actually found in the text (in this case the word surveillance). I hope that made some sense…
      Yes, I do not know why we all got different results, although, like you said each tool finds words in different ways, creating some discrepancy with the results.

  2. How were you able to get the seperate act and scene and visualize that in the heat map and word tree? When I do “read and annotate”, I can see the contents on the right side of the page where you can click a particular scene, but it is not allowing me to make a collection out of it. When I do the heat map, it is doing a search for the whole entire Shakespeare’s corpus. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. If you could give me a pointer that would be great! Thanks!

    • Hey Ayesha!
      Hmmm… I do not know why that would not be working for you. Are you using GoogleChrome? Because whenever I use Internet Explorer I cannot use the collections function. However, when you use the Heat Map try and change your Hamlet text to Act ______. I do not know if this worked for me because I had already made the Act Two collection or not. I hope this is helpful, if not let me know and we can meet up sometime and I can help you out!

  3. Madelyn,

    It is great to see that you are familiarizing yourself enough with word seer to optimize its potential, and I too am finding that it is increasingly useful in isolating acts and scenes, in order to compare and contrast—one of the fundamental aspects of collecting observations and forming conclusions. I also find the collections feature to be incredibly useful, as for my phase two project, I have begun to narrow down the words that characterize the fifth act of Hamlet, alone, and have also created collections of just the fifth acts from other tragedies such as Macbeth, and Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus, in order to compare the frequency of words used in Hamlet and other tragedies, in order to potentially identify disparities or abnormalities in Hamlet, as compared to the other plays. I achieved these comparisons through inputting the same set of words into three different collections (one pertaining to each of the fifth acts from the three above mentioned plays) into the heat map function, and observing the differences in word frequency concentrations. On another note, your approaches prompt me to reconsider and reassess a question that I frequently asked myself back at the beginning of phase one: What is this “word seer”, and what makes it different or superior to other digital humanities tools? My new answer: it is now able to isolate acts and scenes, and continues (when one is using the right web browser) to provide interesting results that may be interpreted qualitatively to raise new questions or form new opinions and conclusions regarding a text. I, in all honesty, am really beginning to appreciate word seer, and I’m glad to see that it is proving effective to my colleagues, as well. Well done, and best of luck with your research.


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