Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

The danger of the Voyant tool

Using this software I was able to sort through data and able to highlight key words. The benefit of which obviously comes from the ability to analyze patterns in text, and thus form certain hypothesis. However, there is an implicit danger in seeing correlations or lack there of within writing, as it could lead to a faulty hypothesis. As correlation does not imply causation, the use of the voyant tool as a means to find an explicit relation is obviously flawed as it takes the text entered out of context.

That being said the tool is still a very helpful tool. It allows for the sorting of data without a lot of work, and can highlight texts which could in theory have some relation. For that the tool is incredibly helpful. Though again it is important to note the tool can only do what it is asked and programmed to do, which is a essentially a text finder. Any relations found must be analyzed by an individual in order to ensure an optimal result.

4 Comments

  1. I agree with you that it is a helpful tool. The ways that we can use this tool is obviously different for many of us but like you said it is definitely helpful in terms of figuring out specific things. We do still have to analyze the text further after we narrow down our search and find certain information. I think that is where it gets everyone a bit confused and again, the tool is helpful but i can unserstand where you are saying it may be flawed because it can help you to some extent. As we use it more we may be able to find other and new aspects of the tool. Good job!

  2. I agree with you that it is a helpful tool. The ways that we can use this tool is obviously different for many of us but like you said it is definitely helpful in terms of figuring out specific things. We do still have to analyze the text further after we narrow down our search and find certain information. I think that is where it gets everyone a bit confused and again, the tool is helpful but i can understand where you are saying it may be flawed because it can help you to some extent. As we use it more we may be able to find other and new aspects of the tool. Good job!

  3. I agree that Voyant, on the surface, can be a useful tool when it comes to researching and filtering out sources for a paper or similar project. You bring up an interesting point that I did not consider, however, about the dangers of taking the information that Voyant supplies at face value, and assuming that two or more similar sources, with seemingly correlating information, are in some way related. In most cases you will still have to fully read the sources that you discover using Voyant, but I think in terms of a useful tool to help narrow many texts or sources of information into a group that is likely to include the relevant information you are looking for, Voyant would be helpful tool.

  4. Reading your post and the above comment, I completely agree on the “correlation does not imply causation” point, and that Voyant draws more implicit similarities between texts means different uses for the program than what one might first gleam when opening the program

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