Monday, November 3, 2008

Word Cloud using Wordle

Wordle is one of those applications that creates a word cloud. That is, it will take all the text you give it and create a graphic where words that are repeated more often are printed larger. Words that are used less frequently are printed smaller. The cloud at the top of this post is made up of the lyrics from the Beatle's tune, "Let it Be".

The Gettysburg Address looks like this as a word cloud in Wordle.

I know there are other applications that can do this so with that in mind I went to Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day and did a search for "word clouds". He had a post (Larry has a post on everything!) and discusses two such programs. Wordle is one and Tag Crowd the other. I looked at Tag Crowd and did the Gettysburg Address to compare the two. You can see the results using Tag Crowd below.

I like Wordle better. It gives me more options than Tag Crowd including control over the color and some font selections. Do be aware that if you use Wordle, the content at the site isn't censored and kids can see some inappropriate words in the gallery. If this were a big issue, I might choose Tag Crowd.

I recently had a technical glitch with a lesson plan in my Multimedia class and needed a quick distraction for my class. I had the kids find the lyrics to a song they liked (with appropriate language) and then paste it into Wordle and experiment with the different parameters. They entertained themselves for a good twenty minutes trying different songs. I threw out the suggestion that they put in a political speech or two and the race was off to put in snippets from different candidates. My experience with this has got me to thinking about creating a design project using a word cloud as part of a collage.

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