I’ve loved Alice in Wonderland since forever so I decided to pick up my old copy again for this assignment. I honestly enjoyed this lab the most because it was easy yet challenging too. When I looked at what I needed to do, my head hurt just to comprehend everything, but once I started it the process wasn’t hard at all. All it took was careful analysis and time, which brings me to the first part I want to mention. Through careful analysis of the passage, I noticed for the first time just how much back and forth conversation there is to the characters. For example, when I was writing down who said what to whom, I noticed that there was a lot of back and forth between the same characters. One character would say something to another character and then that character would reply and the process would continue. My edges were very back and forth between two characters at a time. I also noticed that a lot of the conversation was focused around Alice, which is understandable considering the story, but it was more noticeable when analyzed closely.
I think an advantage to social network analysis is that it gives the researcher a chance to focus on one specific part of a text as well as how many characters there are and who is more important over the others. In other words, who are the focus characters and who are the ones that connect the conversations and move the story forwards. Finn words it a bit differently, “Network analysis allows us to explore the middle ground between the individual text and the distant reading of thousands of texts, exploring the emerging space of cultural distinction for a particular author’s work at a particular time” (Finn). There’s a kind of middle ground to texts that gives us the important information to the piece such as characters and the dialogue. Network analysis gives us that connection to the middle ground. Another advantage that network analysis has is that connecting data over a digital means saves time and effort as well as patience. This assignment wasn’t hard, but it took a good chunk on my time doing it by hand and that was even just a bit of one chapter I attempted. With a computer, the process could have taken less than a minute and I could have analyzed the whole of Alice in Wonderland if so desired instead of a half of chapter 7.
A disadvantage is that with network analysis computers are in charge and have control over what is important in the text then what could really be the important information. The machine will make its own calculations as to what to display and what connections to make with a text. Computers are not completely fool proof and can and will mess up in their displayed information at some point. Students need to use their knowledge and understanding of the specific text to correct these mistakes that computers can make with network analysis. Students need to be knowledgeable in a text that they want to use network analysis on so that they can catch the mistakes.