Category Archives: Tools

Networks with Palladio

Palladio is a tool used to visualize networks. Networks are an important subject matter for the humanities, as humanities scholars ask many questions about relationships and correlations. Using digital tools, such as Palladio, visualizing networks, relationships, and correlations has never been easier.

You start by importing your data. Palladio then allows you to easily link your data to create relationships. We continued to use the data from the ex-slave interviews for this tool.

You then can create a graph. In order to make the graph, you need to pick which two facets of your data you’d like to show the relationship between. For example, we used the aspects “topic” and “state where enslaved”, or “age” and “topic”, or “interviewer” and “topic.” Of course, the options are almost endless!

Here’s an example of one graph, where I chose Male/female aspect and topic of interview to correlate:


You can also manipulate the graph however you want. Each of the orbs can be dragged into a desired position.

This is a useful tool for studying networks. From the many readings on network visualizations we read before working with Palladio, it seems that other network visualization tools are more difficult to use. In order to use Palladio, you do need a guide on how to start if you are new to this sort of program. It is not the most clear site, but with a guide, it would be fairly simple to make your own network graphs.

Mapping with CartoDB

I have had some previous experience working with mapping tools – mainly ArcGIS and QGIS. Those experiences made digital mapping seem exhaustive, difficult, and tedious. CartoDB is quite different – opposite of my experiences with the GIS software.

CartoDB allows anyone with data to be able to map it easily and efficiently. Again, as long as you have a dataset, CartoDB is fairly easy and straight-forward to use. Our dataset for this project was information from a collection of interviews from former slaves. When first uploaded, the map created was simple. It shows the location of each interview. You can also go in and alter the information shown, so that by clicking on the data, a user can see a glimpse of the information about that point.


There are many ways you can utilize CartoDB to alter the information shown through your map.

Intensity – this map feature shows the intensity of the locations of your data through colored dots (as shown below).


You can also show intensity through a heat map, which integrates the location data (as shown below).


Another way to view data is through the Categories option. Through this, I could view the data by slave “type.” The map shows this information by coordinating colors to they types of slaves discussed throughout the interviews. An example of this is shown below.


CartoDB is free to use on the web! Again, I found this program easy to use and user-friendly, especially when compared to other well-known mapping programs. For anyone that wants to use a mapping program, I suggest CartoDB. I am excited to further explore this program with my project for this semester.


Working with Voyant

This was my first experience using a text analysis tool. Overall, I think Voyant seems to be a great tool to use for text analysis for a variety of reasons. First, it is available online and its graphs can be pulled up through URL’s. This tool is also great because of the multiple forms of text analysis it provides.

On the Voyant main screen (once you’ve uploaded your documents) you’ll find five different screens, each with a different purpose. Cirrus shows a word cloud of the most widely used words in the documents. By using the Reader screen, you can read through some of the documents and spot specific terms in each. Trends puts this data into graph form, which can be manipulated to plot the data in multiple ways. There is also a section which shows the most distinctive words from each document, under the heading “Summary.” Finally, you can pick a word to examine and see the words that come immediately before and after the chosen word – this is the screen called Contexts.

This program allows for one to produce fascinating insights on word usage and correlations for humanities research. There are some issues with this program, however. The web format of Volant seems to be very glitchy. I had to start over numerous times because it would not show a particular graph or the program would get stuck. This was fairly frustrating to deal with so hopefully these issues could be fixed as the program gets updated.


Figure 1: Screenshot of main page in Voyant.