Monday, April 24, 2017


After navigating Gephi last week, this week's Digital Humanities Tool of the Week (DGTW?) is Voyant! Whereas Gephi is a more complicated, more intensive program, Voyant is readily accessible, and the perfect tool for those who want an easier introduction into the world of DH tools. Voyant is new to me as well, so I'm going to play around with it a bit, and share my results. 

You might know Voyant from seeing word clouds around the internet. These can be made with the Voyant program, by inputting data and adjusting settings to see the words Voyant spits back. For example, in a work where the word "cat" is input a total of 200 times, and the word "silly" is input 150 times, "cat" will be the biggest word in the cloud. This sounds silly, but isn't simplification the best?

As I've covered in readings throughout the semester, DH is complicated. There's a lot of coding and numbers, and data involved, and this kind of work isn't suited to everyone's skill set. Sometimes, it's helpful to have a preexisting program in which to input information, and use the results. Voyant fits this need. 

Here are a few examples of word clouds, from this list I found on

Isn't interesting to see what the frequency of words in a text can reveal about the text?

For this exercise, in keeping with my dystopian flare, I've chosen to put Brave New World by Aldous Huxley through Voyant, to see the kind of word cloud that emerges. Here is the link to the full text document of the book-- gotta love public domain!

This first image is a screengrab of everything that shows up on the screen when the corpus loads. Each individual box shows a different way of graphing the data in the story:

So, there's a lot to unpack here. First and foremost, the word cloud:

You can do a lot to edit the word cloud, such as expanding it to include more words, reformatting it to take a different shape, and edit the font and colors of the words.

There are a lot of other visualizations that can be applied to the data set, another option that jumped out at me was "Bubbles":

"Bubbles" took a while to sort through the 8000 words of Brave New World that were input into the program, so it took a while to work, but it was interesting to see the results. Here's a screengrab of the program running:

Here's another example of something you can do with Voyant. This tool is simply called "Link," and for this example I used a pre-existing corpus within the Voyant program-- a selection of eight Jane Austen novels. I thought that this corpus would be the perfect way to show how the "Link" tool works with a wider selection of works. Because screengrabbing capabilities are limited, let me explain, when you place your cursor on one of the words, the pathways "link" to other words that are connected. For example, the word "Mr." links to "said," "Mrs," "Knightly," "Weston," "Darcy," "Elton," and "Crawford," within the parameters of this data set.

For a fairly user-friendly program, there is so much that can be done with Voyant. If, like me, you're just getting into DH, I highly recommend playing around with this program. It's a user-friendly program and it shows you some of the cool things that can be done with a DH tool, without the complicated addition of coding. Whether this is the extent of your travels in DH, or just a stepping stone to learn more, it's worth of perusing.

No comments:

Post a Comment