Voyant Text Analysis

This tool really made text mining and modeling less of an abstract concept than the readings and even the videos had made these processes out to be. It is an efficient way to do comparative analysis of several texts and the various types of visualization, allowing a researcher to see word clouds, frequency and text graphs, correlations and a summary of the documents simultaneously. Voyant also allows for the data sets to point the way so that a researcher isn’t confined to working from suppositions, and can instead follow the data’s lead and pursue different avenues of textual analysis. It made sifting through 17 documents with over 2 million words and enjoyable enterprise rather than an intimidating endeavor. As the number of texts and the quantity of data pose ever greater to challenges, a tool such as Voyant provides a way to make daunting tasks less so. One drawback was that the export tool does not identify which document corresponds to the url and so if one opens several word clouds to compare and export, they should be sure to make a note of which visualization(s) they are looking at, particularly when some of the word frequencies in the word clouds are similar.

Metadata Review: GEC Refrigerator Unit




The digitized image dates from 2016 and comes from a trade card from the Age of Power and Wonder Series that came with a pack of cigarettes. From the Metadata we glean:

  • the title: GEC Refrigerator Unit
  • description: Max Cigatette cards. Large and small cards in one series.
  • type: cigarette card; trade card
  • creator: Max Cigarettes; Wix, A. and Wix, M.
  • format: still image
  • location: South Africa

The Metadata does not indicate if the digital image is in jpeg or png format. There is no original publication date and the copyright is undetermined. It is unclear who A. + M. Wix are, so I am thinking these are the individuals either responsible for the illustration or its publication at Max Publishing.

The metadata is helpful but incomplete. It does not solve the question as to when this series was published, how many of the card were published, or the digital format published in 2016.

Database Review: American Indian Histories and Cultures

Database Title: American Indian Histories and Cultures

url: http://www.aihc.amdigital.co.uk.mutex.gmu.edu/

Reviewer: Dr. Myriam Mompoint http://drmyriammompoint.net

Date Accessed: Oct. 1, 2019

American Indian Histories and Cultures is a comprehensive database, published in the UK,  with a very inviting welcome page, helpful tabs and drop-down menus and a host of other features. According to the site, the database makes extensive use of the Edward E. Ayer Collection that is part of the Newberry Library’s massive holdings. While the collection itself boasts:

130,000 volumes, over one million manuscript pages, 2,000 maps, 500 atlases, 11,000 photographs, and 3,500 drawings and paintings. The collection covers not only American Indian history, but archaeology, voyages, exploration and accounts of early America, the development of cartography, Philippine and Hawaiian history, and Central and South American history.

the AIHC database focuses on materials from the collection that deal with Native American cultures of the Americas (North, Central and South America). One feature of the database is the ability to cross-search with another, American West. The publisher is  Adam Matthew Digital with a 2019 copyright which purports to “[publish] unique primary source products for the social sciences and humanities” .The Editorial Board consists of several distinguished scholars who specialize in the area of Native American Indian cultures and histories writ large and includes an award-winning ethnic Shoshone Yale Professor and a Harvard-educated ethnic Mohawk scholar. While the majority of members are historians, the fields of literature, religion and ethnography are also represented.

The site itself has a convenient rolling slideshow on the homepage that allows researchers to see highlights of the database. The welcome page provides a quick summary of the types of materials available for use. There are hundreds of digitized paintings, drawings, photographs, maps, newspaper and journal covers that may be exported as .pdf files or saved via lightbox. The database allows one to register in order to create an online archive. The drop down menus afford one an array of search options, a visually appealing color-coded chronology, or if one prefers, a linear timeline, a rich array of primary source documents “digitized in full color”: rare books, diaries, essays, speeches, linguistic studies and much more.

The database is user-friendly, includes opportunities for multi-modal research via an interactive map and links to other databases which also include other types of interactive activities, such as the Montanatribes.org database. Because its vast holdings may seem overwhelmning, the site offers “Take a Tour” and “Page by Page” features to help orient the user and help make searching more efficient. The date range covers several centuries, from the 15th to the present-day, so the ability to learn how to navigate the site in an orderly way is a welcome attribute of the database. Boolean searches and filters allow one to limit the types of materials or dates that the researcher is particularly interested in. There were no user reviews on the site, however a slew of editor’s have posted essays on useful items or oddities that they have come across while using the database. There is a “Popular Searches” feature as well, though there is no visible information as to how these tags were compiled.

The terms of use, and privacy policy are easy to find and the contact information appears in several places. A myriad of external links rounds out the types of sources at one’s disposal for research, including the American  Indian Film Gallery, the American Indian Center of Chicago, the Duke Collection of American Indian Oral Histories and digitized treaties between the Federal Government and various Native American Nations. Audio files and educational material expand the usefulness of the site to a broader public. Access is restricted to licensed organizations and affiliated users. Those who do not fall into this category are advised to contact the publisher via e-mail, phone, fax or postal service to Wiltshire, UK. Adam Matthew Digital also has social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Digitizing the Kitchen Part 1

Melissa Terra indicates that images are the most popular form of digitization in her article Digitisation and Digital Resources in the Humanities. As she further indicates, the more complex the digitization , the more time consuming and the more processes involved in converting files into proper formats. The photographs of the kitchen items included simple steps to digitize and involved merely cropping the images down to size. With the video, the files had to be converted into a compatible format, which was a multiple step process involving several programs and a bit of trial and error. One certainly begins to appreciate all of the levels involved in the creation of digitized project of a more complex nature. From having the basic equipment to needing to invest in more sophisticated applications, the more ambitious the project, the more expensive for the institutions. One also understands why an institution might not be inclined to digitize a particular project. The video clips of the refrigeration did not appear to be an advantage to the photograph other than to provide more context. Conway’s look at how digitization of images can make use of various techniques to “render meaning” is an intriguing look at how intent can influence the final project. The kitchen images that I took had to be edited down to fit into the course page. Because of the limitations of the program, I had to crop three of the images. One had to be cut down so much that it exaggerated the distortion of an item in the photograph: a bottle of water. Marlen Manoff’s article makes me wonder about the issues of context and the notion of the “pictorial turn” as we continue to privilege the image as the primary conveyor of information. The cameras that I used for both the still and video digital images are already several years old. The quality of the images suffers a great deal because of this. In an era where digital imaging is creating ever clearer reproductions, an institution’s ability to spend on the latest technology will impact the message and meaning that the viewer takes away upon seeing the image. The “remix culture” that Manoff discusses in her article is really at odds with the notions of “authenticity” and “meaning” in Conway’s article. There is no doubt that I took an original photograph of a green bottle. Cropping the image completely distorted the object. It was no longer a faithful representation of the object. However, the “bent bottle” of the still photograph managed to provide more information (e.g. weight) than the video clip which displayed a more authentic representation of what the bottle actually looked like. Manoff cites Hayes in stating that “the meaning of a work, whether print or electronic, cannot be separated from its physical manifestation” make me wonder about how we derive meaning, particularly if what we are looking at is distorted. What happens when we do not have enough contextual information (as in the temperature gauge)? It reminds me of Roland Barthes book “Image-Music-Text”, one of the first works that I read about reading an image via understanding connotation and denotation. Now, with digitization, understanding how digital images convey meaning, can be manipulated to disseminate a specific message: “Decisions have to be made about spatial resolution, tone reproduction, and color space before
images are digitized. In most cases, it will not be the goal to reproduce the physical properties of the
original, but to reproduce its appearance under certain viewing conditions” [Conway 2009].

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