Digital Humanities Project

Wordle: Handsome Drowned Man

       With the amount of technology being used for educational purposes today, it seems only natural for us to resort to digital devices to perform research, support a thesis, or even just to experience a different learning environment.  Whether such technological tools as Ngram Viewer and Wordle are actually useful in analyzing literature is debatable, however. 

       I find the Wordle tool quite a fanciful device, that can really engage a reader.  It apparently means to sum up a text by revealing its most important terms.  When in came to my short story, “The Handsomest Drowned Man”, it did a pretty good job.  In an eye-catching assortment, it tells the themes of my story and what it is about.  According to my Wordle, the most important terms in my story are drowned, sea, and man, which is precisely what the tale is about.  I found the Wordle tool to be useful in my case because it told my chosen story, without actually giving anything away.  I imagine the Wordle is meant to persuade; convince a potential reader to venture into the text.  As far as for analytical purposes, I’m not yet convinced that a Wordle is the best device.  In analyzing, I feel the need to closely read the text and perhaps do some background research stemming from any conclusions I may have made from close reading. 

       As  a research tool, I think Google’s Ngram Viewer would be a somewhat handy tool.  At first, I was a bit confused about what the Ngram viewer actually did.  As I experimented a bit, I saw that it displays the popularity of a word in texts during a period of time.  It can be useful in comparing words with similar meanings in which is chosen more.  Ngram Viewer goes even further than just numbers and provides a list of the books with the chosen word and time period.  It’s useful in seeing how the word was used in which types of texts in comparison with how it is used today. 

    As accompanying devices used in a digital humanities project, I think Ngram Viewer and Wordle are good tools and provide interesting information.  However, I do not think either tool can be used as the main approach to interpreting literature.  I feel they are merely supporting roles, in which the main act should be focused on the more traditional method–close reading. 




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