I’m having a lot of trouble getting beyond a superficial understanding of the collection of stories. If you use the summary tool, you can get an idea of what each story is about. For instance, the top words from a Scandal in Bohemia are photograph, king, majesty, Adler, and Irene. If you click on a story, you can perhaps get an even better idea by using the Words in Documents, Keywords in Context, and Word Trends tools together.
So, I’m definitely understanding these tools as ways to practice computer assisted reading—if I’m understanding it correctly as a way to more efficiently scan a document, but focusing on its keywords.
But, I have not been successful in making any headway in this “screwing around” methodology. There are perhaps several reasons. First and foremost, I don’t think I understand the tools and how to use them effectively. Mostly what keeps coming to my mind is, I don’t know what I’m looking for… which I realize is exactly the point of Ramsay’s essay, so I guess I don’t fully buy into his idea.
I suppose, to some degree I’m “looking for” an interesting image that makes me ask a significant question, or leads me to some kind of conclusion that brings some kind of significance to what I’m doing. But I haven’t seen anything yet, except the summarization quality of the tool, which allows me to get an idea of what the stories are about.
I thought that, perhaps, one of the more visual tools would be more engaging, so I tried both the knots tool and the collocate clusters tool. I found both these tools to be less than helpful in my understanding of the texts. When I tried to click on the various segments of the knots, the screen would reload, and the lines would draw themselves over and over again. With the collocate clusters, I liked that I could visually see what was apparent from the summary tool, but it didn’t deepen my understanding any.
In summary, I will be the first to admit that I have been hindered by a lack of interfacing skill in my ability to arrive at any conclusions from screwing around on Voyant; however, as I was screwing around, I couldn’t help but think that if I had something specific for which I was looking for support, I could definitely use these tools to help me find it.