NanoHistory Tools: Radar
Is it possible to build a kind of fingerprint of a given historical source or text using discreet parameters, and compare it with others? Radar is an experimental tool that seeks to do just this. Whereas text analysis tools and software allows scholars to extract named entities, parts of speech, or identify elements of a given text, NanoHistory's model requires users to do so in order to create evidentiary trails through the historical record. In essence this establishes a different kind of typology for text analysis as entities are mentioned, referenced, or cited in a thing, imbuing the resulting data with a critical characteristic - an assertion of meaning. Radar allows users to compare the entities referenced by several things as a radar graph. Each spoke on the graph represents an entity, and each text is a different colour. The resulting visualization acts as a kind of fingerprint of the meaningful contents of a thing as defined by the spokes in the graph.
The primary objective with Radar is to build a tool that will allow scholars to quickly discern the historiographical distinctions between historical sources. What will make the Radar visualization useful are not the areas of overlap, but those that are on the peripheries, the 5% distinctions ringing the centre of the graph. An example is whether the historiographical interests of English Reformation scholars has shifted from examining people to places and material culture in the last forty years. A testable hypothesis for Radar would be whether texts written earlier than c. 1985 have finger prints with greater concentration on individuals and organizations, while those afterwards tend towards things and places in what they mention and discuss.
At the moment Radar merely enumerates the entities associated with a given thing. Future revisions will employ keyword and dates functionality, and different factors for the radial spokes.