Assignment 2

An ordinary citizen’s most likely form of contact with their Senator is through listening and reading their speeches. Apart from an opinion a constituent may formulate from observing the support or opposition their Senator shares towards a particular form of legislation, the public routinely constructs opinions on politicians based off their speeches and comments. Not only are speeches widely publicized, but they are also heavily critiqued. As a result of the importance a speech may have on a Senator’s public approval, Senator’s dedicate a great deal of time crafting and tailoring their speeches to distinctive audiences. Generally, a Senator interacts with the public in three main forums: Senate Floor speeches, keynote addresses at conferences or events, and interviews with the media. Due to the wide array of settings a Senator finds themselves communicating to the public in, a Senator must modify their message to successfully reach each particular audience. The corpus below analyzes United States Senator, Elizabeth Warren’s approach to speech writing and delivery when speaking to the three aforementioned audiences. Enclosed within the corpus, are the Senator’s media interviews with ABC News on April 17th, 2014 and Moyers and Company on September 5th 2014; Senate Floor speeches on the Citigroup bailout on December 14th, 2014, Planned Parenthood on August 3rd 2015, and the Government shutdown on October 3, 2013; and keynote addresses at the Democratic National Convention on September 5th 2012, AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages on January 27th, 2015, Netroots Nation on July 17th, 2015 and at the Levy Institute’s Hyman P. Minsky Conference on April 15, 2015.

 

Below is a visualization of several of the Senate Floor speeches:

 

 

Floor speech

When delivering speeches on the Senate Floor, according to this visualization, the Senator focuses on addressing the responsibility of the government in serving its people honorably. She alludes to the government 50 times in just three speeches. In addition, she refers to vocabulary related to the government in “Republicans,” “American,” “country,” “democracy,” and “federal,” a minimum of ten times throughout her speeches. Understandably, when presenting herself on the Senate floor, the Senator strayed from using colloquial language and targeted her speech at the faults of the government.

 

Below is a visualization of several of Senator’s encounters with the media.

Media

 

Clearly, when speaking to the media, the Senator aims to deliver her speech on a more personalized level. Rather than focus on highlighting the multitude of problems within the government, she tries to sympathize and connect with families and the struggles they face. The words “families,” “people,” “chance,” and “kids” are most notably used in an attempt to convey her message in a manner that illustrates she cares about her audience. In comparison to her Senate Floor speeches, the Senator does not seem like she is speaking with a political agenda, coming across rather personably.

 

Below is a visualization of several of the Senator’s keynote speeches:

Large Audience

Though the Senator dedicates her attention to a wide variety of issues, when making formal speeches to large audiences, she devotes considerable, if not all of her time, to discussing the economy, the financial crisis, Wall Street and banking. The Senator is a member on the committee of Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Aging, and Energy and Natural Resources; however, according to the corpus, minimal time is allocated to having discourse on Energy and Natural Resources and Health and Education. Though it may be argued the impacts of Wall Street certainly do influence her other committees, it is evident the Senator speaks on markets, Wall Street, corporations, institutions, credit, taxes, financial reform and the effects on the middle class as the heart of her speeches

 

Below is a corpus of the nine analyzed documents:

All

Voyant not only allows one to analyze several similar speeches based on audience, but also illustrates a conglomeration of all outlets the Senator is most likely to speak at, to the media, on the Senator Floor, and delivering keynotes addresses. According to the visualization above, it is evident that the Senator’s expertise and most sought after undertaking is evening the playing field for the people, specifically middle class families. The visualization illustrates the Senator used the word people 118 times, government 97, big and banks 68, country 65, and families 58. Without any prior knowledge of the Senator’s political party or policy stances stances, based of this corpus, one can indicate that the Senator’s message to the public focuses on how big financial institutions are destroying the middle class in this country, and how the government is not taking sufficient action to reform this. While Voyant certainly allows one to encapsulate several documents into one visualization, it serves majorly as an introduction to the technique of visualization analysis. As for creating word tress, conducting sentiment analysis and document summarization one, must utilize the Jigsaw platform to deeper analyze a corpus.

 

Below are several word trees of vocabulary most prevalent discovered in Voyant:

On every occasion that the Senator said families, it was in sympathetic fashion or to showcase how the government is not adequately assisting them. Even more, when the Senator talked about families it was disturbing to hear how difficult of a time they are facing in present day in America. She exclaims they have been “hanging on by their fingernails,” “had been tricked by credit cards, fooled by student loans and cheated on mortgages,” and “really want to build some security,” According to this word tree, the Senators sentiments regarding the middle class demonstrate she is supportive of reform that benefits them.

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Discussing Washington and the purpose of government, it is evident the Senator has disdain for the ineffectiveness of American democracy. In the word tree below, several times she expresses how the government is not working for the common good of the American people, but instead working the rich. Specifically, she states, “Washington works for those who have lots of money and lots of power,” “watched one of its own representatives nearly die from a gunshot to the head just a hundred miles away from here, then refused to hear the country’s calls for common sense gun reform,” “worries that we’ve been tough on Wall Street while the American people know that the banksters who broke our economy belong in jail,” “we need a government that doesn’t work just for the rich and powerful, we need a government that works for the people!

 

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Most interesting, though a distinct divide between Democrats and Republicans exists, each time the Senator mentioned Republicans, it preceded a negative comment. The word tree below indicates how valuable of a platform Jigsaw is. When one listens or reads speeches they may not immediately realize 100% of the time the Senator mentioned a Republican, it was to highlight her disapproval of the party. Addressing a wide variety of issues, she states Republicans, “may still want to fly the Confederate flag and Republican leaders may cower in the shadow of Donald Trump, but the American people understand that Black Lives Matter and America is not a country that stands for racism and bigotry,” “are pushing anti-market agenda,” “held up a noncontroversial, bipartisan bill to stop human trafficking,” “threatened to shut down the government unless they could change the law to let employers deny women access to birth control.” Though these statements are appalling, it is remarkable Jigsaw allows the reader to easily formulate an opinion on the Senator’s attitude towards republicans through a single word tree.

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Lastly, Jigsaw’s sentiment analysis indicates how positive or negative a speech the Senator has delivered may be. Rightfully so, the Senate Floor speeches were identified as more negative, while the Senator’s contact with the media, and her keynote speeches, specifically the Democratic National Convention were placed on the more positive side of the spectrum. The following spectrum is organized from ascending to descending order, beginning with the ABCNews interview, and ending with her most fiery floor speech, the Citigroup bailout.

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As Tanya Clement expressed in her article, utilizing platforms like Jigsaw and Voyant provide new perspectives when analyzing different texts. Voyant and Jigsaw can easily organize large amounts of information into categories that humanists may never thought of doing, or may never have imagined possible due to the enormity of the text size. In addition, visualizations offer humanists a new lens when examining their data, emphasizing digital applications can serve as a great assets to them.

Assignment 1

“Strife and Power in the Middle East”

 

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This is by far my favorite visualization I have encountered so far. The conflict present in the Middle East is so complex due to the numerous countries involved along with the contrasting principles that several countries abide by. This visualization seeks to simplify the conflict as much as possible. Though there is a lot of important information that must be presented to accurately and authentically visually illustrate the conflict, the visualization does a fabulous job in making it as aesthetically pleasing and simple as possible. Though it is a static visualization, it could easily be transformed into a dynamic one. The creator of the visualization could implement the option of clicking on a country involved in the conflict or on an arrow explaining the negative connection between two countries. After the viewer clicks the country or arrow they could receive an in depth explanation of why it is important to discuss the connection when trying to understand the conflict and view the differing ideologies countries have. This visualization definitely encourages the viewer to understand the material from a variety of perspectives and illustrates how complex the Middle East conflict is.

 

 

“I have a headache”

 

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Unlike prescription medicine, the power of choice in purchasing over the counter medication often leads many people to spend much longer than expected at the pharmacy. Ignorant to the differences between medication, I often find myself looking for the brand I am most familiar with or the cheapest option. With a vast array of options available, this visualization seeks to aid the consumer in purchasing medicine that best suits their type of headache or desires. Aside from following the lines that lead you to your specific purchase, this is a static visualization as there is little interaction within the visualization. The division of products does not allow the consumer to compare the different types of medication nor contribute to new ways of understanding why the exact recommend medication is best suited for their headache. While I do appreciate the gesture to accelerate my shopping, the visualization is too overcrowded; one has to zoom in due to the abundance of information. The endless lines makes the consumer feel overwhelmed and it feels like the options never really end.

Bad visualizations

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This data visualization is very aesthetically pleasing but unfortunately, that is the only positive attribute about it. Many questions arise as one attempts to demystify its message. What is it seeking to get across to its audience? Why aren’t all the individuals blue in the Facebook region if it is associated with the figure 100%? What is the difference between the blue and red colored individuals? What percentage is each of the eight individuals per line worth?

 

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Before even delving into the visualization’s meaning, is very difficult to look at. One of the strongest traits of visualizations, in my opinion, is the ability to relay information in a clear, organized manner that allows the viewer to derive quick conclusions. However, this visualization embodies the exact opposite of that purpose. Though it is helpful for one to visualize how topics and subtopics connect, there is an overflow of information presented. The abundance of arrows and connections turns the viewer off instead of presenting a clearer form of the interconnectedness of information.