Visualizing Uncertainty and Perspectives

Strengthening the methodology of digital humanities
Image: Caspar David Friedrich – Wanderer above the sea of fog

Human communication is rarely explicit and accurate. We use as little as possible words to convey a message and assume that it is clear in the context. Some information is not easy to put into words, such as someone’s feelings, or the exact time and place of things. In addition, we always choose a certain perspective when we describe the world around us. Different sources describe the same situation differently. On top of this, people are often insecure and express this in communication. An analysis of human communication must therefore not only display the information but also the uncertainty, vagueness and the perspective of the sources. This makes the information complex. In Visualizing Uncertainties and Perspectives a visual toolkit has been built that can show uncertainty and perspective as a layer on top of the content of texts. In the project we have shown that the same toolkit can deal with very different types of data: biographies, news and emotions in theater plays from the 18th century.


  • Piek Vossen
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Maarten van Meersbergen
    Netherlands eScience Center
  • Janneke van der Zwaan
    Netherlands eScience Center