Before I begin, it should be known that I am/was rather confused about what numbers to look at/record for this lab, so I apologize in advance for any confusion I create. For this lab I used the 1951-2000 corpus collection. I’m pretty convinced that I did not follow the instructions exactly correctly, but here are my results:

When I searched “the future” in the collocates tab, I got a frequency of 317 (L=220 R=97); a stat value of 4.01962. The next three collocates I found interesting were:

  • “of future” with a frequency of 104 (L=44 R=60); and a stat of 3.12123
  • “our future” with a frequency of 88 (L=66 R=22); and a stat of 4.04349
  • “in future” with a frequency of 116 (L=73 R=43); and a stat of 3.99101

For the next step, we were instructed to go to the “Clusters/N-gram” tab and cite the three highest frequencies. Here are my findings for the left:

  • “future of” frequency=22
  • “future is” frequency=11
  • future generations” frequency=10

And for the right:

  • “the future” frequency=144
  • our future” frequency=35
  • “for future” frequency=14

In step six we were instructed to take two of the bigrams from the previous step. We are still focusing on the word “future” and the two bigrams I have chosen to focus on are bolded.

future generations” frequency=10

our future” frequency=35

Now for the next step we are focusing on just one of the previous bigrams we examined. In this step I will be using “our future“. Here are three documents where this phrase can be found frequently:

  • 1953 Truman.txt
  • 1985 Reagan.txt
  • 1997 Clinton.txt

For step 8, I was not entirely sure what I was looking for, but I did find it interesting that the bigram I chose, for the most part, occurred toward the end of these documents.

In step 9 we uploaded the Brown corpus to compare to our State of the Union addresses. We were told to focus on three “expected” words and one “unexpected” word. Here were my findings for my expected words:

  • “government” frequency=803
  • “federal” frequency=600
  • “economic” frequency= 501

And for the unexpected:

  • “president” frequency=299

After going through this lab, and discussing these tools and topics in class, I feel as though I am much more educated on the value of tools, such as AntConc, and how they allow us to analyze various texts. However, I am more friendly with Voyant and Lexos than AntConc. Being a more visual person, the blandness and tediousness of AntConc was not very appealing to me. Coupled by my overall confusion with the lab itself, I did not feel as comfortable or confident as I had in past labs.

Prior to this lab, I had never really looked, especially this closely, at any of the State of the Union addresses. So in short, this examination was very educational, both with using AntConc and the actual corpuses being used. But to be more specific, I found that by using the word “future” as the core aspect of this lab to be particularly intriguing. As Mahlberg writes in her article, “[k]ey words can provide a first overview of a text, pointing to words that are potentially useful for more detailed analysis.” In terms of this corpus, by pointing to the actual word and usage of “future,” we can more readily determine both the tone and vibe of the time period. Future is most certainly a key aspect of all State of the Union addresses, so again, it is extremely fitting that this was our focus.

As seen in my report, I took a heightened interest in the relevancy of “our future,” which was a direct, as well as indirectly, a result of the period time of my corpus. The period of time from 1951-2000 was an immensely important time for our nation’s future, so it only felt fitting to focus on this for my investigation. To my surprise, the phrase “our future” was not as prevalent as I previously believed it was going to be. I know that State of the Union addresses are more associated with a form of yearly review, but as I stated, given the time period and the various international events taking place, I would have imagined the future being a much larger topic of discussion.

Just as with all the other computer and digital tools we have and will use, while they provide us with an enormous amount of useful information insanely quickly, they also leave us with more challenges. Those challenges cannot be overcome by technological power, they reside within the mind of the individual. Our discussion of close and distant reading encompasses these challenges. In order to make sense of this bevy of information, we must be able to make sense of it, which inevitably relies on individual interpretation. As a result, the easiness or more easily availability of distant reading is almost always followed by a more demanded attention to close reading. So in terms of this lab, if we were to take away the given years and presidents of the addresses, we could still arguably be able to determine the significance of each individually, but with our ability to gather multiple years and examine their diction as a whole, we are able to learn more about the time period.