The two sites Mining the Dispatch and the Google Ngram viewer seem to me to be scientific and it is difficult to understand their purpose from what can be read or not read on the main pages of each site. Each contain statistical jargon and lack a simplified explanation for someone unversed in the required fields. The language and description in Mining the Dispatch is very difficult to understand and I think this makes entering the site more daunting. Google Ngram viewer is much more user-friendly after playing with the site I began to under stand its purpose.

Mining the Dispatch is a historical site that pulls information from the Richmond Daily Dispatch news paper. The site focuses on social and political life in Richmond, Virginia headquarters of the confederacy. The description on the home page is heavy laden with historical and scientific rhetoric. The wording is not simplified for a general audience so it might be harder to understand for someone outside the topic/discipline, it has a very specific audience in mind (ex. “It uses as its principle methodology topic modeling, a computational, probabilistic technique to uncover categories and discover patterns in and among texts.”). The site contains a lot of written text and graphs on every topic which is a nice visual to have while reading. Clicking the links in the topics section was interesting. I found their purpose difficult to understand, for example the fugitive slave ads, out of the first ten articles on the screen three were all the same, $10 reward for a slave named Parthena, and the other seven were all identical in giving a one hundred-dollar reward for a slave named Sam. I also found the graphs difficult to read because there were no labels/titles on them. Overall I think the links are good if you are researching specific information on Richmond, Virgina or the information could be used in conjunction with other research.

The Google Ngram viewer seems more user-friendly. What it does is shows the use of terms over time (years), you can enter in a couple of specific words and it searches the frequency of their use in literature and graphs it. It is easy to find the “about tab” at the bottom of the page that goes into a better breakdown/explanation of the graphs. It seems to more systematically describe its findings which helps a lot in understanding the site. I hit a section (table charts) in the “about page” that was completely blacked out, it looked like they were highlighted but it didn’t work and I couldn’t view the information (unreadable). It provides a FAQ section that gives useful tips (ex. Ngram is case-sensitive) to use if you are experiencing problems, and it helps to analyze findings.

The science article Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books is a research article that focuses on the use of digital technology to examine historical through digitized books. Some of the things that can be learned from this study include the evolution of grammar, trends concerning event,dates, names, detecting censorship and suppression, and culturomics. Basically, the use of the computer allows humans to look at enormous amounts of data and use predictive software to analyze the past and possibly make predictions for the future. Because a computer can look at vast amount of data at extremely high speeds, data can now be quickly analyzed, whereas in the past, it would have taken a lifetime, or been impossible. The article also provided a variety of graphs that compared data over time.

The possibilities of each of these examples of  technology are promising, however, I found the science article to be quite complex and difficult to follow. The science article was someone else’s work and it refered to using digital technology to conduct research, so I did not find it as useful as the more hands-on Google Ngram viewer.  While each of the sites provide statistical analysis and information I found that, overall, the Google Ngram allows you to do some of the research yourself, while it is quite easy to use and understand.

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