Voyant Links Analysis

Candace, Chelsea, Danny, Joe, Martin

Voyant Links Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy Poems

Upon our initial investigation, we wanted to look at the connection between the physical body parts and greater concepts and themes throughout the collections within the Links Tool from Voyant. Unfortunately, Links did not show other significant words connected with the physical body parts that we found most mentioned throughout the collection. If looking to write a paper, close reading would be the easier way to actually write a paper to find these connections as Links does not provide the right kind of information.

After putting in just the physical body parts, we also attempted to add the connection to love. Before using Links, we as a group anticipated a greater connection between love and the physcial body in The World’s Wife than in Mean Time. After fiddling around with the tool for while, we drew mixed conclusions. While Mean Time, did not show a connection between body parts and love, The World’s Wife showed that love was directly connected with head, eyes, face, and breast.  Furthermore, love was centrally placed between all the words.

Here is an example of these connections in Mean Time:

Links would be a more useful tool if it could combine plural terms with its singular counterpart. It would also be more effective if it could incorporate words that are used to describe a concept— an idea not as tangible as words in the poem. For example, in World’s Wife Duffy describes women and men with drastically different diction. When describing the females in her poems she calls them “Tough as fuck, Beautiful, Rich, Wonderful, Drop-dead gorgeous, Bad girls, Serious ladies, The captive beautiful, Less-loving one, Self-contained, absorbed, content, Like the best of men…but twice as virtuous as them (68), Belles/ of the balls. Queens of the Smoke, Ballbrakers…Prickteasers, Dressed to kill, Swaggering”.

Conversely she calls the men: “Bastard, Ugly as sin, Sheepish, Strange, wild, vain (11), Delirious, Idiocy, Greedy, Pure selfishness, Appalling, Useless, Jerk, dork, Slightly mad, cunning, and callous bastard (27).” These connections are lost in links because “man” or “woman” might not be used in direction conjunction with the adjectives. A tool that could also categorize and identify these distinctions would be more effective.
Here is an example of these connections in The World’s Wife:

On Lexicon and Memories

I found the idea of Culturomics presented by Jean-Baptiste Michel and others very intriguing. The entire concept of trying to track our cultural changes through language isn’t entirely foreign, but the scope of the study and the way in which it is being done is new to me. It is very interesting to see their work and to see the ways in which different people became famous and how quickly other people are forgotten. My favorite quote from this: “‘In the future, everyone will be famous for 7.5 minutes’ – Whatshisname.” The idea that collective memories are currently more forgetful and that there is a decreasing appreciation of different figures and technologies is something that is always talked about, but this presented it showing that this isn’t a new phenomenon and has been changing since the 19th century invention cycle.

The vast amount of words that they had to look at is incredible and I imagine this study took forever to actually go through even with modern technological functions such as ‘Ctrl+F.’ I always knew that the way things are worded is important, but this put it in a historical perspective. For instance, in my opening sentence of this blog post, I used the word ‘found’ instead of ‘finded.’ WordPress doesn’t even recognize ‘finded’ as a word and attempts to correct me when I put it into my sentence. Yet, according to this piece, finded was a more widely used term in the past. Whether this was due to relative knowledge of grammar and “proper English” or just because of culture shifting from one word to another isn’t answered, but the background information to provide context to such a question is just as important as the answer. Most people have never learned of ‘finded’ as being an acceptable term in any case.

Another curiosity in this piece was whether they took a wider look at how years are mentioned. Nowadays, I hear more about time periods and decades than singular years. I wonder if that is another aspect of the forgetfulness of the modern era or if people did remember certain years more in the past. Just a random thought from my reading of the piece


This summer, I took a class on contemporary poetry of the past decade. We studied artists like Zachary Schomburg, Tao Lin, Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer, and etc. Each of them had their own styles and characteristics to their writing. I am surprised that we did not read Duffy in this class. Obviously, there is a lot of work being put out within the ranks of poetry, but I think my teacher, a poet herself would have appreciated it as she did the rest of what we read. Duffy’s characteristic at least that I noticed throughout reading these poems in the first half of the book, seems to be related to nostalgia

Fittingly, the third poem in this collection is named Nostalgia, but the feeling of nostalgia begins with the first title of the first poem: The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team. This poem speaks of missing that sense of being the big person on campus. Knowing all of the major hits out there on the market. Being in the athletic prime of one’s life, she expresses this with the narrator of the poem jumping on their bike and riding down Dyke Hill with no hands. These feelings of nostalgia for specific time periods characterize many of the poems that Duffy presents in this novel as we have reached this halfway point.

One of the things that I enjoy about Duffy’s writing here though is a random correlation I made with one of the structures she uses from time to time. She will write out a well thought sentence that takes up multiple lines and then she will write a one word sentence punctuation and all. This made me laugh as I read because it has become a trend within hip hop and rap as of now that many artists are doing this with their metaphors. They will elaborate on an metaphorical sense of themselves and then state the object of their description in one word to end the metaphor. I don’t think that was her intention as to draw attention to extended metaphors, but just the form of that elongated sentence next to a short one made me think of that.

On A Story, Afternoon

I laughed while reading this story. Maybe it’s because of my own personal nature when i read or maybe it is because it was genuinely funny, but the main character in this story throws out some great stuff.

“Lisa’s secretary hates me, not with, but without passion. She merely hates me.”

“It is very difficult to use the word, rude, seriously, don’t you think? The same is true for clever. The notion of cleverness is a class distinction, much like draperies.”

” ‘‎Most likely he’s off with his form on an exploratory jaunt.’ ‘We used to call those field trips.’ ”

” ‘How… would you feel if I slept with your ex-wife?’ ‘It is foolish. She detests young men.’ “

It is not that these are the most brilliant lines in the world, but they provided some sense of entertainment to my reading. To me, there are very many obvious attempts at humor and poignant messages throughout this book. For instance, the second quote I have as part of this group asks a simple question of word choice and what that has to do with how we view class and class distinctions. You’re more clever than I and that means something in some way to the person who states it. There are other moments like this throughout the bit of reading that I did. Ultimately, I think the writer tries almost too hard to relate to an everyman of sorts with his use of language. Some things just get confused and don’t really make sense.

In my opinion of the story thus far, I must bring about one of the critiques of the hypertext field brought on by the linked piece provided on the blog. This work is not very well written and it has nothing to do with the fact that it is a hypertext novel. There are certain limitations to the use of hypertext, but overall, I think it fairly intriguing to read this way. I was actually into this story for the most part. The confusion for me comes from the writer himself and the paths that they send you on. There is a concept of space limitation that makes a portrait and a mural far different from each other. A novel in many ways is a portrait and a hypertext novel is like a mural, it can go on for as much as there is wall, while the portrait novel is confined to a smaller, more certain path to get the point across in a linear manner. However, at some point, the writer of this hypertext mural must choose some limitations. I don’t think that every word should be a hyperlink in this novel. Why would you want that? You would create an almost never ending story and the writing in this book isn’t nearly good enough to make me want to travel all the way there. The story can be looping and can go all over the place, but the frustration of reading this is that you never know when you’ve finally reached the edge of the mural and it’s time to look back the other way again. Maybe, it becomes more apparent when u finish the novel, but from what I have read thus far, the only limitations to a hypertext novel are those the writer puts in place. I don’t think Afternoon adds enough limitations.

On a completely unrelated note, R.I.P Steve Jobs as I write this blog entry with an iMac in the library.

Digitization of the sciences

I thought this would interest  you guys since we talked about needing to build things like web tools that further help the study of whatever aspect of the humanities others may want to discover. This is an example of digitization of the sciences, using a web tool to look at the various scales to which we can study the universe. Not completely related, but I thought it was cool nonetheless.

Scale of the Universe

On Immediacy Now

Bolter and Grusin in the beginning of chapter 1 of Remediation seem to be trying to explain the sense of virtual reality that people will want to immerse themselves in. We’ve seemingly created a lot of what they described without full virtual reality as we’ve seemingly taken bits and pieces of that dream and applying them in certain areas.

We live in an age of getting everything faster and faster.  RSS feeds, google searches, and etc. have all made it possible to have information at any time; the hardware improvements have made it so that these things are literally at your fingertips. And while the dream of fully integrated virtual reality has yet to exist, game machines like the Kinect, Wii, and PlayStation Move have gotten us ever closer to properly integrating ourselves in a virtual world after failed past attempts that were costly and ultimately did not give that exact feel. The 3-D recognition technology in the Kinect allows for the most fully immersive experience and the Xbox acts almost fully as a personal computer. You can look through the news, search YouTube, watch movies, listen to music all while rarely, if ever, using a mouse/remote, although a keyboard is still the quickest and easiest way to type things. The television is in this case the larger, yet still limited version of the desktop.

The tablet is the device we are currently at that achieves the goal of getting rid of the desktop and allowing you to immerse yourself deeper into the computing experience. New updates allow you to swing through the space as if that once so restrictive boundary of the window edge no longer appears and this is now being replicated on desktops and smartphones as well. It is still however, not the fully immersive virtual realm.

Even if the dream of a fully virtual realm has not been realized as of yet, the desktop has become far more immersive than once thought it could be. The full screen apps allowed on the new Apple OS X Lion allows for full screen apps using the internet like a gateway almost never experienced before on a desktop. The magic mouse and trackpad allows for an experience of being inside of the desktop and everything you ever opened on your desktop being at your fingertips in one full swipe. (I don’t mean this to be an advertisement for Apple, but it is just an example of what we’ve begun to do with desktops)

The desktop interface combined with the internet has allowed many improvements in technology to remediate those old styles of doing things and make them far more expansive and involved. Full on virtual reality, like “the wire,” has not been achieved yet, but I think the immersive experiences that have popped up (Kinect, OS X Lion, tablets, touchpads, RSS, internet, etc.) and will continue to pop up (Chrome OS, Windows 8, etc.) are moving us ever closer in that direction.

On Building and the Use of the word “Digital”

Who are these builders that can proudly call themselves Digital Humanists? According to Stephen Ramsay, there are 4 kinds of people who are really involved in the Digital Humanities.

“…people who theorize about building, people who design so that others might build, those who supervise building, and people who are working to rebuild systems like our present, irretrievably broken system of scholarly publishing.”

So who are not digital humanists? Ramsay puts it this way: “if you are not making anything, you are not… a digital humanist.”

Ramsay points to an issue of definition of Digital Humanists. He says that the Builders within the digital realm are the Digital Humanists. I had no problems with this. The problem comes with the lack of definition of what building is. I read the first piece that was assigned and I also read his follow-up piece defending his statement of building. There isn’t a strict definition of building, but there is a strict definition of what makes a digital humanist. The use of digital tools to create arguments is not digital humanities to Ramsay.

I guess, my only issue comes with the definition of those that come after the tools have been built. If I use a digital tool as part of a study to build an argument, am I a digital humanist? From Ramsay’s definition, it seems to mean that I am not a digital humanist. The use of a digital mechanism without furthering discussion does not make one a digital humanist, but my build of an argument doesn’t necessarily design anything else for someone else to build digitally. That’s the crux of my feelings about this piece. I can use digital tools and pose my arguments in the digital world, but outside of creating discussion amongst people, I am not building anything for others and providing them with new tools with which to build.

So my question is: If a builder is a digital humanist, then what do you consider the people who use the tools that are built but don’t create another tool out of it? For instance, a swordsmith uses a hammer to create a sword. The person who wields the sword is a swordsman. If I build a tool for mapping text online then I am a digital humanist. What is the man who uses the tool to create his argument and publishes it online for others to use in building their arguments, an analogous humanist? It is a much more traditional approach. Take the tools given and create an argument, then have others collaborate and etc.

I think the biggest problem with calling someone a digital humanist is the use of the word digital. It is so all-encompassing that it is almost impossible to pose a limit on what the field of study is or the tools necessary to join this “exclusive” crowd. Everything is digital these days and the ways to work digitally are much easier. When the term was first coined, the idea of everything being done digitally was but the best wishes of someone with big dreams. Nowadays, digital doesn’t separate the field well enough anymore. If he wants to distinguish those who build things digitally as part of this separate group, then maybe we should call them Humanities Engineers as opposed to Digital Humanists.

On class discussion and recent articles

Hey guys, I thought I’d share this article that was written today. I thought some of the terminology used would be interesting as it correlates well with the manifesto and our previous discussion.


Social Media’s Slow Slog Into Academia

On Generational Stereotyping

If there is one thing that brings a rallying cry to each successive generation, it is the belief that the generation following is somehow dumber than the previous one because of technological gains. From the time wasting dangers of television to the time wasting dangers of video games to the time wasting dangers of the internet, each generation has found something new to be overly anxious about with the next generation. Each generation is then promptly given a chill pill and that is what the Digital Humanities Manifesto does for me in their response to Mr. Mark Bauerlein, author of Dumbest Generation. I am sure he did a lot of research but with all due respect, I’d suggest he look at the majority of his generation that can’t seem to make the digital immigration process happen without someone from my generation there to help them. The key that many who follow Bauerlein’s train of thought seem to forget: “Technology can both inhibit and facilitate the learning process.”

The educational system itself has misguided many by not providing them with the means to learn how to use a computer for more than just luxury social networking. The trend however is not new. This is not an adjective used solely for my generation. Since the 1980s, people have warned of an increasingly worsening performance on exams in the United States. Back then instead of China, Japan was the growing economic threat to the United States. This isn’t a new trend. My generation isn’t the Dumbest generation. All of that stuff started with Bauerlein’s generation when they were my age. The trends in less exercise. The trends in lower overall academic performance on standardized exams. All of the trends that Bauerlein speaks of are there as an end result of things started long ago. The solutions to these problems put forth by this Digital Humanities Manifesto are also not new. Collaboration, conceptual learning, networking, greater socialization, interactive classroom techniques, and better objective outcomes have all been stressed before. What generation is really lacking in their execution? My generation for falling in line with a trend started long ago, an over-stressed trend but a trend nonetheless? Or Bauerlein’s generation for starting the trend and then failing as educators to buck the trend? At the end of the day, all the Manifesto is asking is for a greater diversity in educational training with greater use of technology involved. Sometimes you blame the students and other times you blame the teachers. The Digital Humanities Manifesto sounds more like an invitation to have both sit down and actually work together as opposed to glaring and pointing at one or the other.