Tuesday, 17 February 2009

picture > 1000 words

When people outside academia ask what exactly I do, I often find it hard to quickly explain my research focus. Perhaps this means I should be doing something else. If we're at a cocktail party I tend to evade the question, but if they persist I try harder. It tends to come down to "some military history, and some cultural history of war." What, they then ask, is the difference?

well, here is one way to see the difference. Using the entertaining Wordle function you can make a composite image of a piece of text, with word size proportionate to frequency (with common words like 'a', 'the', 'and' etc all excluded. Then you can compare and contrast two roughly 6000 word articles I published last year, one cultural history of war and one military history. Both are about defeat and Caporetto, so they both highlight these words. But you can play an easy game of spot the difference (click for bigger images)

First up, "From Heroic Defeat to Mutilated Victory: the Myth of Caporetto in Fascist Italy"and now for "Generalship and Mass surrender during the Italian defeat at Caporetto":


See? one features monuments, memory, experiences, interpretative, sacrifice; the other features artillery, surrendered, corps, officers, strategic. Easy as pie.

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