Using Tools To Visualise Stories.

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I was asked to look up some text visualisation tools and give my opinions on how effective they are on analysing and visualising a text. I went over three different tools and I will give my opinion on each starting with Voyant.

Voyant more for analysis than visualising text as a tool as it does not give us an idea of what the story is by looking at the results of using Voyant. How Voyant works is that you input the text you want analysed into a text box. The text then gets analysed based on the words on the text and number of times the words pops up in the text. An image is created that is supposed to be the visualisation aspect of Voyant and here was my first result in a text I analysed after changing some settings.

walkingdeadvisualising metamorphosis

The text you see analysed is a story arc in graphic novel I read called “the walking dead” and the second is for a book known as “metamorphosis”. The Handy thing about Voyant is that it tells us the things we expect to find in the story if we do read it such as the main characters names and such. Its big disadvantage in terms of visualisation is that you don’t know how the story begins and ends as you get more of what is in the middle. It also can miss vital things such as the main character being turned into a bug in “Metamorphosis”.

The second tool I used was Many Eyes which I didn’t like it as I faced too many frustrations when putting in a text. My problem with many eyes is that it is not for visualising big text such as books or novels that can be over a thousand to twenty thousand words long. It is more of a tool for analysing and visualising text such as speeches which are not as long as a book.

I tried using two massive texts in Many Eyes at separate times which resulted Many Eyes having script errors on me or causing extremely long load times on the site. When I did get something to work I found many of the templates were preferably for stat type data as many templates where the like of bar charts, pie charts and such. I also tried using a speech by Winston Churchill in Many Eyes but I still had technical problems. I would have given Many Eyes more of a try but I spent 3 hours on it without getting results only errors and issues with the site.

storymap logo

I also used StoryMap JS which is a timeline type tool that helps visualise a story so I decided to visualise The Walking Dead All Out War arc I put into Voyant. I actually enjoyed StoryMap JS because I got to be very creative in using it and I knew the story I was visualising well. I also liked how easy it was to use the interface for StoryMap JS as I could make changes quickly and easily. One problem with StoryMap JS is that unless you know the text your visualising well you will not be able to use it well as everything in StoryMap JS requires user input.

I think with StoryMap JS you can visualise a story well based on your knowledge of the text and use of a map to tell the location of a certain part of your story makes looking at the visualisation more interesting. I also like how you can set up images that make presentation on your storymap nice and professional. I actually really liked using StoryMap JS for visualizing text and I would like to use it again in the future to make other nice visualizations.

The following link leads to my Storymap:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/1d95300fb1bcba7f75781fbc44cb78e5/test/index.html

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