Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Image courtesy http://www.wordle.net/

One of the blogs that I follow regularly is BLDG BLOG, which is written by Dwell Magazine Senior Editor Geoff Manaugh. I don’t want to make a habit of cloning another blogger’s writings, but Manaugh’s recent post entitled “The BLDGBLOG as a Series of Word-Frequency Clouds” intrigued me too much. He describes Wordle, which is an online toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. As the Wordle site explains, the clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The size of a word in the visualization is proportional to the number of times the word appears in the input text.

I had to try it myself, and so I inputted the text from all of my “talkitecture” posts. The result (image above) shouldn’t have been surprising to me – “architecture” and “design” are two of the most prominent words – but it sure was fun to try. As Geoff Manaugh says on his blog, Wordle is “like Rorschach literature, literary cobwebs from which you can pick and choose new meanings.”

Wordle is the brainchild of Jonathan Feinberg, who is a software engineer with IBM’s Collaborative User Experience group. He created Wordle as a personal project with IBM’s approval.

If you’re someone like me who is easily amused by gadgets like Wordle, check it out and enjoy the software’s ability to reveal uncommon dimensions of your writing.

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