I have to admit that I have yet to be able to draw any solid conclusions from using word clouds. In this assignment, for instance, I felt that there was a lot of interesting material in the various fusion charts in regards to gaining insight into the narrative form of the novels in this list. I was excited by these discoveries and wanted to build upon them in Step 3 of this assignment, but in a way I felt like I was really going backwards into the realm of unsupported visual conclusions rather than the factual, numerical, and comparable takeaways I was able to draw from Fusion. Obviously, there are inherent differences between charts and word clouds and the kinds of information that they are used to provide—even kids at science fairs know to use a chart rather than a word cloud to represent their results on their tri-fold poster board. Nonetheless, I thought that for the purposes of “computational analysis” in this exercise (as with many in the past), I found the word cloud to be generally unhelpful.
With that being said, I was pretty intrigued by the visualizations provided in Fusion. Although none of them were particularly deeply revealing or completely unavailable by simply using the spreadsheet, I thought that the two charts, especially used together, provided some interesting insight into trends in narrative form throughout the 18th century. Obviously, I noted the significant spike in novels in general in 1769, followed by a decrease of 31 books the following year. I also noticed that very few novels were written prior to 1741. As I attempted to compare the two big adversaries in narrative form, at least according to our tracking of novels from Robinson Crusoe to Northanger Abbey, I was surprised to learn from the bar graph that there were more third person narratives than epistolary novels overall. The pie chart, however, reduced this discrepancy by pointing out that while third person novels made up 34.9%, epistolary novels made up 28.6% of novels published in the 18th century. What this pie chart did not represent that the bar graph was able to, however, were the dates corresponding to these two narrative forms. It was interesting to observe that in addition to the discrepancy between the two forms (although less significant when considered on a percentage basis), third person novels also appeared earlier than epistolary novels and experienced more variance in their popularity, whereas epistolary novels coincided with the general 1769 peak. These comparisons between counts, percentages, and dates were all much more revealing than the simple relative sizes of the different types of narrative forms in the word cloud.