The second day of the conference turned out to be a very sunny and warm with the occasional clouds but they didn’t manage to cover the rooms of Digital Humanities 2012 in Hamburg. A warm, friendly and sunny atmosphere was reigning inside on the workshop by Geoffrey Rockwell and Stéfan Sinclair from Canada “Introduction to distant reading with Voyant Tools, Multilingual Editions.”
The name of the tool “Voyant” tells much about it – that it helps observe the text. The first name of the tool was actually Voyeur but due to its dubious meaning the creators decided to change the name to Voyant.
The collection of tools operate on different languages – English, French, Italian and Spanish. The picturesque presentation of Voyant functionalities that combine beautiful visual figures and graphs with the sound of bubbles rotating and crashing amused the audience. Although the features of the program are very advanced there were lot of questions in the room concerning the security and privacy of the
information. Rockwell and Sinclair explained their devotion to the principles of secure information uploading without saving it for the long period of time.
After mastering the program it’s not a big deal for the user to study digital texts, to track correlation and coincidence of the words, their semantic role and impact within the meaning of context. Voyant opens the eye on text analysis in a playful style – you can watch the text without hearing any words.
Try it yourself at: http://voyant-tools.org
Elena Dergacheva and Regina Weidmann