October 10th, 2011

High-Tech Reading?

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

To reflect on what we did on the most recent Web Wednesday, I’ll report here a comment I left on the class blog and add a bit more to it. =D

“I did searches on “photograph” and “king” separately, so I made different graphs but each graph had several different synonyms of the word that showed up prominently on my Wordle. A Scandal in Bohemia was written in 1891 or so, so I set my graph from 1830 to 1930 to get a clearer graph. “Photograph” was nonexistent until about 1860, and then it rose slightly but steadily from then on. “King” was on a bit of a steady decline since the beginning of the graph. Were monarchies ending? And the photograph was invented around 1850, right? The graphs opened the window to a lot more research. It was interesting.”

Based on my own experience with it, I really do think that Wordle and Ngram are useful Digital Humanities tools. Looking at and picking out words from the Wordle, then comparing them to words I thought were prominent opened by eyes to the debate over promience vs. importance for the words in the story. It then led me to choose words to put in the Ngram, based on how large they were in the Wordle, or how large I thought they should have been based on the plot. Once I observed the Ngram charts, honestly, the possibilities blew me away. If I hadn’t used them myself, I wouldn’t have seen how important to literary research they could prove to be. I made connections between the time the story was written and its contents… I thought of more possible connections that I could research in the future. I think these tools could really deepen one’s understanding of the writing. I mean, you could always read a book on these things, but this really gives you a place to start looking. Its a focused beginning, instead of just opening a book on “Victorian England.” I connected “photograph” to the time period, just by looking at how the word suddenly appeared around 1860. I wouldn’t have come across that so quickly in a book, right? Alright, let me cut this short, and save the rest for the essay.. o____o

The essay is now posted under the Digital Humanities page, go and check it out! =D

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