For my final assignment for Digital Humanities this year I have been asked to use text visualisation tools to see what I can find from a text of my choosing.
For this assignment I have chosen to compare Donald Trumps presidential candidacy speech (2015) with President Obamas (2007), with focus on Trump. The questions which could be raised from this comparison are those of a political nature, namely what do these two politicians address in their speeches and how do they do it. Looking at this data it may to possible to draw some conclusions about how these candidates achieved the the popularity they have with voters.
I chose to use Voyant for this task as it seemed the most accessible of the tools I have used and had a plethora of features that I enjoyed using.
I searched for a tool that would easily allow me to compare and contrast two different texts and their visualisations but the feature isn’t easily found on the web applications I was trialing. In Voyant there is apparently a way to compare the usage of words in two different texts (http://www.briancroxall.net/2012/07/18/comparing-corpora-in-voyant-tools/) but this tutorial is for an older version, and there is no up to date tutorial that I could find. I was unable to contrast the terms in the two speeches which I feel would have enhanced the general aim of my argument.
Among the features are the popular word cloud – or Cirrus as it’s known in Voyant. Below are the two different Cirrus clouds I produced of the contrasting speeches. Both of these cirrus clouds have been edited to exclude conjunctions and pronouns. These make for an interesting comparison after this though. I would encourage you to try and guess who each speech belongs to but I think it is apparent that the views and ideals expressed in the first one belong to Donald Trump.
In the trump speech I played around with the other features of Voyant. Above is the correlation of the most used words in correlation to each other. I like this visualisation as a companion to the cirrus.
Below is a snapshot of the word-count interface on Voyant. Having this hard copy view of the repetitiveness of Trump speeches may lend political thinkers the information needed to justify the theory surrounding Trumps huge popularity among a largely poorly educated, white-male demographic. His almost colloquial mannerisms and congenial, calculated stammers are almost painfully transparent when viewing this quantitative data.
The contrast is stark when looking at the scope and usage of words in each text. Here side by side you can see the terminology of Obama and Trump.It looks like Obama has the more varied and less repetitive vocabulary. It should be notes that the word count is +300 for Trump. Overall I think that the tools I’ve used here have given me a great insight into the texts of these politicians. Some features were lacking such as the dual comparison but overall Voyant is a great tool.
In my opinion my findings fall in line with the findings in this New York Times article describing:
”The most striking hallmark was Mr. Trump’s constant repetition of divisive phrases, harsh words and violent imagery that American presidents rarely use, based on a quantitative comparison of his remarks and the news conferences of recent presidents, Democratic and Republican.”
The visualisation serves to better and more easily understand this quantitative research very well. Apart from that though, the question does remain as to what fate America has in store. Either way: Trumptory or Trumpfeat ; there’ll be a lot more speeches to analyse in these coming months.