Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tag Cloud

Tag Clouds have been all the rage since New York Times published 'Dubya's' State of the Union Speech because it demonstrated visually just how paranoid a speech it was.
So, what is a Tag Cloud? Well, if I were to do one of this blog it would look like this.
This image was produced using Wordle.net.
Here's another example:


created at TagCrowd.com

This one was created by copying one of my articles into the website at Tagcrowd which produces a tag cloud with the top 50 items. Can you guess what the article might be about?
As you can see, the words are sized according to their frequency. The colouring can also be semanticised so in the State of the Union versions, newer words are in darker colours than older fading words.

And if that isn't enough for you the TagCloud Generator offers a 3-d dynamic all-singing and dancing version (ok, it doesn't actually sing). It also offers the chance to download and keep the swirling dynamic cloud you have made.

You can use web-based versions, and get fairly good results, or you can download your own Tag Cloud generator for use with any text from Chirag Mehta's website - look for the Download Tagline Generator link, but you will need some IT technical background to get it working.
Another good thing about this website is that Chirag shares some of the methods for creating Tag Clouds - without having to "reverse engineer" the software. Basically, a list of each unique word in a text is created and each word is counted. Then some words, like common grammatical words (the, this, is etc.) and words for organising text (thus, notwithstanding), are removed. From the frequency list, words are selected and then displayed so that font size increases with frequency. It's that easy!!

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