If 'sensemaking' sounds like an attempt to supplant the interpretative power of historical method, historians should rest assured it isn't. Sensemaking, when deployed effectively, is a means of revealing patterns, relations and clusters of meaning in data; it does not project onto those data anything other that the assumptions necessary to 'make sense'. It does not, for example, deduce significance. Moreover in the HCI tradition of sensemaking in particular [summarised in 1], it is essential that the 'point of view' which gives rise to the clustering is informed by expertise - and here the historian can find scope for working with the software engineer to develop tools, not merely deploy the ones developed. Sensemaking software development in this sense can be creative and involve, with historial data, considerable forensic and situational historical knowledge; one useful summary by one of the leading exponents of this approach  shows how software developers can, and indeed must, work with and transfer control to, domain specalists to make 'sensemaking' work .
One example of such a 'sensemaking' tool in the public domain is Invisque , a simple tool for visualising the 'sense made' of large collections of text data, resulting from a project funded by Jisc. As a video of the software in use shows , it is possible to use the HCI approach to sensemaking to 'make sense' of loosely categorised text data, or plain text sources. In an example given by Wong et al , a PhD student could use the sensemaking approach and the visualisation tools to shape a detailed literature search. Equally, however, the same student could make use of the technology to make sense of analogous corpuses of data - such as texts from the BL Incunabula Short Title Catalogue . Other sensemaking tools, such as Stasko et al's Jigsaw  allows sensemaking among large corpuses of text documents where the finding and mapping of connections between data can help identify patterns in text records. Text, let it be remembered, is not the only material for sensemaking tools like Invisque. In my own university for example, where the software tool originated, we have been discussing potential applications within the extensive artefact and image collections of the university's Museum of Domestic Architecture (MODA) . Yet greater potential exists in the ability of sensemaking tools to seek coherence among a disparate collection of sources (for example lyrics in Victorian popular songs, Victorian newspaper poetry, manuscript poetry in private archives).
|The Invisque tool|
What sensemaking may offer historians is a vehicle for investigating - 'trying out', if you will - meaningful clustering schemes in textual data. It will certainly do more, for digital text files, than might be accomplished by text analysis tools alone, which seek patterns in word representations, not intuitive 'sense'.
 Pirolli, Peter, and Daniel M. Russell. "Introduction to this special issue on sensemaking," Human–Computer Interaction 26.1-2, 2011, pp. 1-8.
 Youn-ah Kang and Stasko, J., "Examining the Use of a Visual Analytics System for Sensemaking Tasks: Case Studies with Domain Experts," Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on , vol.18, no.12, Dec. 2012, pp. 2869-78.
 Wong, BL William, et al. "Invisque: technology and methodologies for interactive information visualization and analytics in large library collections," Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011, pp. 227-235.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDmswS6cceg (accessed 8th January 2015)
 http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/istc/index.html (accessed 8th January 2015)
 Stasko, John, Carsten Görg, and Zhicheng Liu. "Jigsaw: supporting investigative analysis through interactive visualization," Information Visualization 7.2, 2008, pp. 118-132
 http://www.moda.mdx.ac.uk/home (accessed 8th January 2015)
 Hexter, J.H., On Historians: Reappraisals of the Masters of Modern History. Harvard University Press 1979.