Two New Tools

Through the DH Tools for Beginners site, I found a tool called Timeline JS.  Because I have primarily been in charge of the timeline portion of our site thus far, exploring different timeline tools is very interesting to me.  This tool was developed by the knight lab at Northwestern University.  The site provides a template for a Google spreadsheet, and users input information that they want on their timeline into this spreadsheet.  The program then creates a timeline using the inputted information.  To me, the most interesting facet of this program is its ability to show a wide variety of mediums.  Users have the ability to include not only raw text or pictures, but videos, Tweets, Soundcloud files, and even links to websites.  Thus, it creates a very interesting and exciting way of communicating information to an audience.  The difficulty with this tool is the Google spreadsheet template that you have to use.  For someone who is not familiar or comfortable with computer lingo, it can be very intimidating.  Really, though, it isn’t difficult to use at all.  If you can get past the computer lingo and the intimidation factor, the program spits out a beautiful timeline that can easily be embedded in your site.  We could easily incorporate this tool into our site in place of W&L’s timeline tool.  It’s appearance is more appealing and it would probably be easier to use.  However, our project does not fully lend itself to this tool because of the lack of videos and more modern types of media associated with Lee Chapel.

We were also introduced to Voyant on Friday of last week.  Voyant is a text analysis tool.  While it can serve many purposes, one of its main functions is to highlight words that are used repetitively.  This can either serve to demonstrate the most important words in a passage, or it can point out repetitive word choice, which is what it was used for in my writing class last semester.  Thus, Voyant can be used for a large range of classes and disciplines, and is not strictly a digital humanities tool.  Voyant also creates a wide variety of visual interpretations of the most used words in a passage, rendering a product that can easily be shown on a website.  Voyant’s downfall, though, is its relatively confusing interface.  Even for someone who has used it multiple times, it can still be confusing.  Creating a stop-words list can be difficult and complicated, especially for someone who has not used Voyant before.  Some of the visual interpretations of text that it provides are also very complicated and relatively pointless. I personally think that Voyant is most useful in seeing which words are used most often in a passage.  In this regard, it could be useful for our project in interpreting a book (on Google books) that discusses the proposed renovations to Lee Chapel.  If the author uses repeated words to show his emotions about the renovations, we may be able to use Voyant to highlight these words for our audience.