For my “machine-assisted” reading experiment, I decided to start of with Hailey’s full text in Voyant. I chose to analyze Sam, time, and The Creep, since that is what I am analyzing in my close reading paper. I believe Sam’s and Hailey’s relationship with “The Creep” is a parallel for their relationship with time (and their inevitable end). When I copied Hailey’s full text into Voyant I found in the word cloud (shown below) that Sam, I’m, allready, allways, just, we’re, and away were the biggest/boldest words in the cloud.
I found this interesting and somewhat predictable. Hailey wants to be with Sam, but “The Creep”/time is trying to forbid it. That is why words like Sam, allways, and allready stick out the most because they appear the most in Hailey’s text.
Also, in the graph, I thought it was interesting that time and “The Creep” were constantly intertwining with each other. However, Sam’s line does not, and he is constantly referring to “The Creep” and time in the novel. I thought that maybe it was because “The Creep” and time may have a stronger connection in Voyant’s opinion than Sam does. Also, maybe, Sam never directly mentions “The Creep” or time because throughout the novel there is no clear indication of who is really talking, so the Voyant cannot decipher that. I also think it is interesting how “The Creep” peaks at the end leading to Sam and Hailey’s death at the end of the novel, and Sam decreases significantly (leading us to believe that this is Sam’s death at the end of the novel).
In addition, I decided to look at Sam’s full text, but I looked at different words this time. I chose to look at Hailey, with, and me in Voyant to see what type of trends I would get. The largest words in Sam’s word cloud all revolve around Hailey. They are words like Hailey, my, her, etc. I think it is that is interesting because it seems like Sam is more concerned with Hailey and their relationship than time/”The Creep” because you do not see it mentioned nearly as much as in Hailey’s full text.
I believe Sam is more concerned with making sure that Hailey will be his forever and not with their inevitable doom. I also believe this shows in the graph Voyant came up with. The graph is of the words with, Hailey, and me (like the word cloud). The words clearly intertwine throughout the novel leading us to believe that Hailey being with Sam is his main concern throughout the novel. It is obvious to Hailey decreases significantly at the end of the graph due to her death.
I also decided to use Lexos to compare Hailey’s text to Sam’s text to see the difference between Lexos and Voyant:
I found it interesting that the word cloud for Sam and Hailey’s text in Lexos did not contain the words that I thought it word (like Time and the Creep), but “Sam” was a large word seen the cloud. I believe this is because Sam is used constantly in the novel than any other word. Sam is an important factor in the novel, and Hailey also uses his name constantly throughout her narrative.
I also decided to compare Hailey’s full text word cloud to Sam’s full text word cloud in Lexos:
I found it extremely interesting that “Sam” was the largest word in Hailey’s cloud, while “her” was the largest word in Sam’s cloud. It shows how valuable they are to each other in the novel. One cannot be without the other. I also found it interesting that time nor “The Creep” were mentioned in any of the clouds transcribed by Lexos. I believe that time and “The Creep” are both major factors in the novel and found it odd that Lexos did not catch on to it. I believe this is because “The Creep” and time may not have been mentioned nearly as much of the other words seen in the cloud(s), even though time and “The Creep” are important factors in Sam and Hailey’s inevitable doom.
In addition, I did face some challenges while using Voyant and Lexos. I struggled with using the software in general and making connections to my argument due to Voyant and Lexos not being able to pick up every word I expected it to. I believe Hayles best explains this by saying, “Although machine reading as a technical field is still in its infancy, the potential of the field for the construction of knowledge bases from unstructured text is clear. Moreover, in unsupervised or lightly supervised programs, machine reading has the huge advantage of never sleeping, never being distracted by other tasks” (Hayles, 71). Voyant and Lexos are still in there beginning stages, so I believe that is why the systems are still not very “user-friendly” yet. It is difficult to maneuver because of this.
I also believe that Voyant and Lexos complement close reading by giving “…more emphasis…on pattern (as in machine reading), the more likely it is that context must be supplied from outside (by a human interpreter) to connect pattern with meaning; the more the emphasis falls on meaning (as in close reading), the more patter assumes a subordinate role” (Hayles, 74). Therefore, Voyant and Lexos have the capability to find patterns that we would not be able to. We would never be able to pick up on all of the patterns as a machine would because the human brain does not work in the same fashion as these tools do. These tools also have the capability to work on tasks because they never have to worry about stopping or by getting distracted as Hayles said earlier. We, as humans, have multiple distractions going on causing us to always get distracted and losing our focus on analyzing due to these distractions.
I believe that these tools have an important place in literary studies because they can accomplish so much more than we could ever accomplish on our own. It always us to see patterns on a larger scale than just close reading with the human eye alone. The graphs and word clouds were helpful to see because it gave me a visual thing to analyze which was very interesting. It gave me another element that I could use to help me further my analysis of Only Revolutions. As Hayles would say, “They define machine reading as “the automatic, unsupervised understanding of text”” (Hayles, 70). I found this interesting because these tools do use an automatic and unsupervised way of analyzing text. These tools provide us with a way to analyze text in a way that thinks outside-of-the-box. It helped me understand Only Revolutions more by giving me a graph to compare Sam and Hailey’s text with. It also helped me understand Hailey and Sam’s relationship more with the graph by showing me trends of their individual texts. It was interesting to see how time plays out in Hailey’s text and how “Hailey” played out in Sam’s text. It showed me that Hailey was more concerned with their time together and Sam was concerned about Hailey as a person and their relationship together. I do plan on taking this information into consideration as I go through my essay to make adjustments.